LONG-TIME Palace reporters are lashing out at a Palace underling for inviting select reporters to dine with President Rodrigo Duterte last week, accusing her of “discrimination.”
The invitations were secretly handed out by Undersecretary Feducia Mia Reyes-Lucas, who is in charge of the Media Accreditation and Relations Office or MARO, and whose job is to coordinate with the Malacañang Press Corps (MPC) on the President’s activities and engagements.
The President was apparently misled when the select reporters were introduced as “members” of the MPC when non-members were also present.
Palace reporters were shocked to learn that the President held a press conference with the select reporters, which was aired live on the official Facebook page of the Presidential Communications Operations Office.
Rose Novenario, Palace reporter of Hataw newspaper, hit Reyes-Lucas, a former TV5 reporter, for her “divide-and-rule tactic.”
“That’s a divide-and-rule tactic being implemented by Undersecretary Mia Reyes since she assumed office,” Novenario said in an interview.
Reyes is a mass communications graduate of the University of Baguio who tailed Duterte during the 2016 campaign.
“She favors Palace reporters who were with her during Duterte’s campaign sorties. She and SAP (Special Assistant to the President) Bong Go should realize that it’s been a year and that Malacañang Palace is not Davao City Hall,” she added.
Bella Cariaso of Bandera newspaper cried foul over Reyes’ “selective judgment.”
“The MPC becomes insignificant when it is being used as basis to discriminate,” said Cariaso, a member of the press corps.
Sought for comment, Palace Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said, “I defer to Undersecretary Mia.”
There was no response from Reyes.
According to the press release sent by Radio Television Malacañang (RTVM), Duterte hosted dinner for the MPC at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang Park.
“The purpose really is to give you an opportunity to ask me questions that you have been longing to find about,” the President said in his message to the media, as quoted by RTVM.
RTVM said “MPC is a group of local journalists representing different media organizations that are accredited by the government and assigned to cover the President and his official activities.”
This was not the first time handpicked reporters were invited to break bread with the President at Malacañang.
After the President’s State of the Nation Address in July last year, select journalists were invited to a private dinner with Duterte at the Malacañang Golf Club House, just a few steps from the President’s official Manila residence, Bahay Pangarap, in the Presidential Security Group Compound.
The invited media were mostly journalists who had covered Duterte since the start of the 2016 presidential campaign.
Handpicked journalists, again mostly those who covered the Duterte campaign, were also invited to dine with the President in November.