With only state-run Presidential Broadcast Staff-Radio Television Malacañang (PBS-RTVM) allowed inside the Batasang Pambansa to cover the fifth State of the Nation Address of President Rodrigo Duterte, the public’s access to the chief executive’s speech has also been limited.
Freedom for Media, Freedom for All Network — alliance of media watchdogs and groups, earlier asked the Presidential Communications Operations Office and the Inter-Agency Task Force to allow a delegation of independent media to cover the president’s penultimate SONA.
However, the groups failed to receive a response to their request, leaving the Philippine and foreign media no choice but to rely on the coverage of state-run RTVM.
In view of this, the public can also access the broadcast of Duterte’s speech via the RTVM and PCOO’s Facebook pages and PTV-4.
Local television networks are expected to also air the same broadcast via the RTVM’s feed.
“Given how recent events have cast doubt on the integrity and credibility of state media, we would like to sound you off on the possibility of broadcast and online outfits hooking up to the [Radio Television Malacañang] feed but airing on a slightly delayed basis,” FMFA said in a statement.
The PCOO announced that the coverage would be limited to state-run media in a bid to curb COVID-19 transmission at the SONA venue.
On Monday afternoon, Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go said a number of swab tests slated to physically attend the SONA tested positive for COVID-19.
Despite this, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte’s SONA would push through at the Batasang Pambansa around 4 p.m.
The limited media coverage came weeks after the country’s largest broadcasting network, ABS-CBN was denied franchise and was prompted to permanently stop its broadcast on local television and only operate with limited shows via digital platform and cable channels.
ABS-CBN New Channel or ANC is only available online and can only be accessed by subscribers of Sky Cable and cable operators outside Metro Manila.
The ban on local and foreign media on SONA coverage also came after the PCOO aired an edited and clipped speech of Duterte where he bragged about “dismantling the oligarchy” without declaring martial law.
The move was condemned by journalists and media workers in a statement.
“The Presidential Communications Operations Office, which controls the government’s vast communications apparatus, owes the people an explaination for why President Rodrigo Duterte’s July 13 speech to troops in Jolo, Sulu was sanitized,” the FMFA statement signed by media outlets and journalists read.
“We demand that government air all presidential pronouncement live and unfiltered. The least you owe the people who profess to serve is the truth, no more no less,” it also said.