DAVAO CITY—President-elect Rodrigo Duterte launched a profanity-laced tirade against the United Nations while criticizing it for being too weak to fix problems in the Middle East and Africa.
In a seemingly unprovoked attack on the UN at a Thursday night press conference, Duterte vented his anger in response to a question about foreign media groups that were critical of him.
“That’s the trouble here, they’re always raising fears about this or that United Nations convention,” Duterte said, even though the journalists’ criticism had not been linked to UN protocols.
“F--- you UN, you can’t even solve the Middle East carnage... couldn’t even lift a finger in Africa… [where they are] butchering the black people there. shut up all of you.”
Duterte, 71, had been incensed by the criticism of foreign and local media groups to his comments earlier in the week that corrupt journalists were legitimate targets of assassination.
Explaining his stance on corrupt journalists, Duterte said on Tuesday that one murdered reporter who was a vocal critic of his leadership deserved to die.
Duterte refused to apologize on Thursday and warned the media: “Don’t f--- with me.”
Later, however, he promised his attitude would change once he becomes president, and told reporters he was just enjoying his remaining days as “a rude person” while he still can.
“I am not yet president. Just wait. I’m really a rude person. I’m enjoying my last time as a rude person,” Duterte told reporters.
Describing himself as a “caterpillar,” Duterte said he will “blossom into a butterfly.”
“I’m telling you how I’m going to behave. There’s going to be a metamorphosis. Suddenly from a caterpillar, it blossoms into a butterfly,” he said.
Duterte, whose controversial remarks have outraged various groups, also promised the public that they will see a toned down Duterte when he takes his oath as president.
“I have to tone down on my cursing. That [is]… going to be history. I have to concentrate more on what happens to this country and to develop it and to make it progress along the way. And there’s a lot of things which I have to do to complete [the task],” he said.
Some 174 journalists have been murdered since the Martial Law regime was lifted three decades ago.
The United Nations has made no recent criticism of Duterte, who has been mayor of Davao for most of the past two decades and will be sworn into office on June 30.
But in 2008, then-UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings Philip Alston highlighted concerns about unsolved murders in Davao.
“A death squad operates in Davao City, with men routinely killing streetchildren and others in broad daylight,” Alston said in a report.
Human rights groups have accused Duterte of links to the so-called Davao Death Squads, which they say have murdered more than 1,000 people.
Duterte has variously denied and acknowledged links to them.
But he has been unequivocal that thousands of criminals will be killed when he takes office and unleashes security forces in an unprecedented war on crime.
One of Duterte’s main election campaign pledges was to end crime within six months of taking office.
Duterte courted further controversy by wolf whistling a female journalist, then responding to her husband’s outrage by insisting he was not sexually harassing her.
Duterte minced no words on journalists, saying he offered no apologies to the “vultures” in media.
He began by saying that there were three kinds of journalists: the crusaders, the mouthpieces of vested interests, and the lowlife who extort money and destroy reputations.
“Do not ever think that I am here to beautify journalists. That is not my business. Now, in the matter of killings of journalists, it happens everywhere,” Duterte told reporters.
“There are crusaders telling the truth—they hit big businesses and those who cannot tolerate the truth. They do not accept money and what is important to them is their profession and telling the truth to the whole world.
“The second one is the mouthpiece of vested interests—it could be mining, it could be anything. Something like an agent for whatever and those engaged in a business or enterprise which needs to be defended. They are also publicists and PRs.
“The third [are] the low life of journalists—they are the ones who travel and accept money from illegal sources like jueteng and in return, keeping their mouths shut. They receive money from those guys whose greed is unlimited. They are paid hacks. Now, they ask for more if there’s nothing coming their way. They talk more and destroy people and families—and they die.
“I’m sure all the senators, congressmen, governors, mayors and councilors of this country would be in agreement. It’s about time that we should not fool each other out and let’s not deny each other the truth. No apologies.”
Duterte also acknowledged that some honest journalists have been killed in the line of duty, but refused for his earlier statement that generalized that it was the corrupt ones being killed.
The good journalists, he said “seldom die because their opinions are respected and they are righteous.”
Despite his promise to eradicate criminality, Duterte said he cannot promise journalists won’t get killed during his administration—even the “crusaders” who were practicing responsible reportage.
“I cannot protect all journalists all over the Philippines. Now, if you belong to the first group—the bonafide journalists—you run the risk when you expose something, corruption and all,” he said.
“That’s a risk. It’s like soldiering,” he added.
Duterte said while he wants to protect journalists, it is impossible to provide security for everyone.
“In journalism, if you the speak truth firmly, of course, you invite danger. Of course, I want to protect you. But I cannot assign [protection] to every journalist crusading…,” he said.
Asked about a call from Reporters without Borders to boycott his press conferences, he said they should go ahead, then launched into his tirade against the UN.
He also dared the media to stop covering, so he would “conduct governance sub rosa” or in secret.
“I do not want publicity, you know that. It would be good if you disappear... Go ahead and boycott me,” he said.
“As a matter of fact, make this trip your last in Davao City. I do not care if there is nobody covering me,” he added.
He then addressed Manila-based reporters, telling them that he hates giving interviews, and that they should ask Davao-based journalists about it.
“Don’t come. Make it a first in the history of this republic. Do not cover me… Just listen to [government] PTV4. I am asking you guys, do not ever come back. I am telling the networks. Do not come here. I do not need you. I will just go around and tell the people that this is the program of government and you would know it,” he added.
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) on Friday said that members of the press will never renounce their duty, despite the President-elect’s dare to boycott him.
“As for your dare to boycott you, we are very sorry but we will not, cannot, indulge you... 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 group said in a letter signed by its national directorates.
Reporters Without Borders on Wednesday urged the Philippine media to boycott the press conferences of Duterte until he apologizes for saying that most of the slain journalists in the country were corrupt.
The NUJP earlier said such remarks have put members of the media in harm’s way.
The group, however, admitted that corruption exists in media but said “nothing, not corruption, and certainly not truth-telling, can ever justify murder.”
“We are sure you agree that journalists, both the good and the bad, are citizens entitled to equal protection of the law,” the group said.
“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 added. With AFP
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