DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/ 03 June) – President-elect Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday night said he will not apologize for his remarks on the media killings, dared the media to boycott his activities and challenged them to remove the veil of hypocrisy so that “we can understand each other and live in a democracy that is run by truth and not by vested interest.”
Speaking to reporters at the “Malacañang of the South,” Duterte clarified that corrupt journalists who are extorting money become the subject of attacks but also acknowledged that the upright ones also run the risk of getting killed for exposing controversies like corruption.
Apparently irked by reports he was endorsing the killing of journalists, Duterte classified journalists into three categories: the crusaders, mouthpieces and the lowlife.
NO APOLOGIES. President-elect Rodrigo Duterte said he will not apologize for his remaks on the media killings and dared the media to boycott his activities during a press conference at the Malacanang of the South, Panacan, Davao City on June 2, 2016. MindaNews photo by Toto Lozano
“The crusaders are telling the truth, baring it all before the public. Sometimes they hit big business or those who cannot tolerate the truth being exposed in the public. And they do not accept money. What is very important to them is their profession and telling the truth to the whole world,” Duterte said of his first category.
The second class of journalists, according to Duterte, are the “mouthpiece of vested interest (groups). It could be mining — defending the miners. It could be anything, something, which is an agent of whatever and those engaged in business or enterprises which need to be defended and therefore (are) called the publicists and the PROs (press releations officers).
“The third is lowlife of journalists. Ito yung nagba-byahe accepting money from illegal sources, in return keeping their mouth shut and (they) receive money. These are the guys whose greed is unlimited. They are paid now, (they) ask for more. If there’s nothing coming their way, they talk more, they destroy people and family and they die,” he said.
He cited DXGO commentator Jun Pala who was killed on September 6, 2003 as an example of the “lowlife.”
“Ang problema dito every son of a bitch who claims to be a journalist makes money out of it, extorting money from the people. He is glorified because he is a journalist,” he said.
While the protection of life is guaranteed under the Revised Penal Code, he said “what is written there is not the emotion of a person” and just because there is free speech and free assembly should not be enough reason to disparage one’s honor.
“There are politicians who can accept it and swallow it, not me. That’s why I said I can lose the presidency any time… I can lose my life and honor anytime. I will not die if I don’t become president. I am willing to throw my last card,” he said.
Filipino people treat honor and life on the same level, Duterte added.
He said all journalists are faced with threats when they married into their profession, who invite danger when speaking for the truth.
“If you belong to the first group, the ones that are bona fide journalist, you run the risk when you expose something – corruption and all. It’s like soldiering. You join the army, then there is always a chance when you go out today for a patrol then get into an encounter and you are killed,” he said.
Duterte was also unfazed by the call of the Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF) to boycott his activities and demand an apology.
“I do not want publicity you know that. It would be good if you disappear. Mag-boycott na kayo. I am urging you make this trip your last in Davao City. I don’t care if nobody is covering (me). You know very well before I ran, nobody knew me or knows my face. I would be content with a camera taking pictures of me…. Make it the first in the history of the republic. Do not cover me,” he said.
In a statement, the National Directorate of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines said: “As for your dare to boycott you, we are very sorry but we will not, cannot, indulge you. Besides, it was not a call made by the Philippine media, for while we may have our differences, as we have had with past presidents, it has never occurred to us to abdicate our duty, which is to keep watch on government and help ensure it does right by the governed and to scrutinize and ask the hard questions.”
The NUJP acknowledged the points raised by Duterte about “vultures” in the media profession but “as we have pointed out time and again, that corruption could be the reason why some journalists are murdered just as you also correctly pointed out that even the ‘righteous’ get bumped off anyway for doing their jobs right, the acknowledgment of which we truly appreciate” but it added it will “always take exception to your sweeping generalization that ‘karamihan’ (most) of the fallen were done in because they were corrupt, for the simple reason that this is just not so.”
“But even if it were, we maintain that nothing, not corruption, and certainly not truth-telling, can ever justify murder,” it said.
“That, we presume, is why we have laws and a government to ensure these laws are obeyed and, most importantly, to ensure the protection of each and every citizen. We are sure you agree that journalists, both the good and the bad, are citizens entitled to equal protection of the law. This, Sir, is why we raise such a ruckus whenever a journalist is murdered. Because, again, we stress, nothing can ever justify murder,” the NUJP said. (Antonio L. Colina IV /MindaNews)