- Malacañang Palace said the President has nothing to do with the SEC closure order against Rappler
- Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque also scored Maria Ressa for asserting the order was a form of harassment
- He added it could have been worse if Duterte really wanted Rappler closed
MANILA, Philippines – The Malacañang Palace on Tuesday maintained it has nothing to do with the closure order issued by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) against Rappler.
In a press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said President Rodrigo Duterte called him precisely to deny he had anything to do with the SEC decision.
Roque added the President “found it unfair” for Rappler CEO Maria Ressa to cry harassment over the SEC order; describing the latter as a move to curtail press freedom in the country.
“The President found it unfair for Maria Ressa to claim violation of freedom of the press when, according to him, Rappler has been very active criticizing individuals for violating the Constitution and the laws of the land, and it turns out it is violating the Constitution,” said Roque.
Roque said Duterte did not like the assertion that the closure order was the result of the President’s dislike for Rappler.
“He has nothing to do with this decision. He was not even aware that this decision was coming up,” said Roque.
The Malacañang official also noted it could have been worse, and if the President really wanted Rappler to close down, he would have sent the military.
“If the President wanted to do that, he could’ve just sent the Armed Forces to their offices and padlocked them,” Roque said, as quoted by Rappler.
Roque also vouched for the independence of SEC, especially its chairperson Teresita Herbosa; saying the latter is not the type of person who can be influenced in making decisions that violate the law.