By Raïssa Robles
I’d like to share with you all a piece I just did for South China Morning Post (HK) on the fact that no independent media will be covering live one of the most important events in Philippine history – the swearing in of the 16th President of the Republic.
Nor will the general public be present.
Journalists banned from live reporting Duterte’s swearing-in ceremony as president
Cameras from state television will provide live footage from Thursday’s inauguration at Malacañang Palace because there is not enough room for media
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 28 June, 2016, 7:24pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 28 June, 2016, 7:45pm
Rodrigo Duterte has banned all media from covering his presidential inauguration live Thursday – a first in the Philippines’ recent history and one that journalists feared would signal restrictions on freedom of information.
The general public has also not been invited for the first time to personally witness the oath-taking of a new president since democracy was restored in 1986.
Instead, all 14 cameras scattered inside Malacañang Palace’s Heroes Hall for the swearing in will be manned by state television PTV4. Broadcasters will pick up the feed, which will also be live-streamed by the social networking site Facebook, Presidential Communications Office Secretary Martin Andanar confirmed to the South China Morning Post.
Normally the grand scale event is open to the public and media in Rizal Park, in central Manila.
Andanar said he was able to negotiate with the organising committee that accredited television media would be permitted to use the palace lawn for piece-to-camera footage, instead of outside the palace gates. The rest of media will be corralled in two separate palace buildings far from the event and will watch ceremonies unfold on large screens.
Duterte’s relations with the media sank when, during a June 5 press conference, he was grilled about wolf-whistling a female journalist and he issued controversial statements on media killings. After that, Duterte announced he would not give interviews until the end of his term.
Andanar, a former broadcast journalist, called the strained relations a mere “tampuhan” or misunderstanding. “Let’s wait and it will go back to normal,” he said.
“Just like any relationship, I believe it undergoes a process of healing. I think the direction is a very vibrant media relationship between the president and the commercial media.”
To read the rest, please click on this link.
Due to space constraints, I was not able to include the following points which Andanar told me. He said the plan to make PTV4 an “independent media with an independent editorial staff” is on track. “In fact, I have already talked to the Australian Embassy. They are already organizing a retraining and retooling by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, which was patterned after the BBC.”
Asked what “independent” means, he said, “it’s supposed to be independent already. It should be producing its own newscast with independent editorial content. He also said there were other contenders for the post of head of PTV4.
Could the content of PTV4 be critical of the president? I asked Andanar.
He replied that making the station independent is “going to be a long process but we will work hard.”
I also asked Andanar whether the relations between President Duterte and the media would be some kind of cariño brutal.
He laughed and said he wasn’t saying that. He added: “My job is to make sure everything becomes smooth after June 30.
He said he had already “dialogued” with the Malacanang press corps on how to cover the president. No, he had not talked with FOCAP (Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines.
“There are certain requests from FOCAP,” he said.
I expressed curiosity whether Duterte would face FOCAP, as all presidents have done starting with Ferdinand Marcos.
“I’m sure he will,” Andanar replied.
“You think so?” the skeptic in me asked.
“I’m sure he will,” Andanar said.
To Andanar, “media” is ot confined to what he calls “commercial media”. Media also includes the social networking sites Facebook and Twitter, which he said had “already reached out. I already talked to them this morning.” He added that he had also talked earlier to Google and YouTube. He said these would be among the media platforms the Duterte government would be using.
From my interview with Andanar, I now know why he was chosen to deal with the media. He has a way with words, the way Francisco “Kit” Tatad and the late Cerge Remonde did.