PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte’s tirades against two media companies is not an attack on press freedom but a reaction to their biased coverage, the Palace said Thursday evening.
“The President’s remarks on ABS-CBN… and Philippine Daily Inquirer is a complaint against unfairness and are not attacks against Philippine journalism,” Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a statement.
“The President himself agreed with the adversarial… role of media as [a] check and balance against government abuses and venalities,” said Abella.
“However, it is unfortunate that these two media outfits tend to project the President as a caricature of a berserk strongman over a failed state,” said Abella.
“The President’s statement is a call for media to be more fair and unbiased; after all, nations succeed when all sectors maintain objectivity and fairness as they collaborate in nation building,” Abella added.
After administering the oath of office to the new officers of the Philippine Councilors’ League on Thursday, Duterte lashed out at the two media companies, calling their journalists walang-hiya (shameless) over their stories about him and his administration.
“Alam mo ang Inquirer kahapon, talagang bull s— ang p—– ina niya, basura talaga ’yan pati ’yung eleksyon na ganyan. The poor will be killed. Tignan mo mag-slant. Ewan ko ba but someday—hindi ko tinatakot but someday ’yung karma dadating ’yan,” Duterte said.
(You know the Inquirer yesterday, it’s really bull s—- those sons of bitches, it’s garbage. Look at the way they slanted [my comments] to say the poor will be killed. I don’t know—and I’m not threatening them, but someday, karma will catch up with them.)
“Talagang mga walang-hiya ang p—–inang journalista na ‘yan. Sabihin ko sa inyo talagang walang-hiya pati ‘yung ABS-CBN,” he added.
“Made publicly and without basis whatsover, the President’s allegations against the media constitute verbal abuse—the cheapest form of harassment and intimidations that has brought the highest office to a historic low,” the Center for Media Freedom and Respoonsibility said in a statement. “The virulence and viciousness of his language are an abuse of power, a stain on the freedom of our public forum,” the media watchdog added. “The practice is protected by constitutional rights and held responsible under the law for any proven wrongdoing.”
The National Union of Journalists in the Philippines said Duterte’s comments were “unwarranted” and “absolutely twisted.”
“Excuse us, but it’s clear that it’s you, and not them, who is rude. It was a brazen abuse of your immense power as chief executive of this land and only shows how little, if any, appreciation you have of democracy and governance,” the NUJP said.
Liberal Party president Senator Francis Pangilinan on Friday reminded Duterte of the role of the press in a democratic society like the Philippines.
“Our individual freedoms and our democracy are better served by a free and critical press. It is part of our democracy for presidents to be at the receiving end of a critical press,” Pangilinan said in a statement, a day after Duterte hurled invectives at media firms whom he perceived to be unfair in their coverage of his administration.
Pangilinan, a member of the Senate minority bloc, said many presidents before have had their share of squaring off with the press.
“All these presidents have since left Malacañang but the press is still very much around,” he said.
Senator Antonio Trillanes IV on Friday challenged again President Rodrigo Duterte to just sue him for libel if indeed his allegation that he had more than P2 billion in bank deposits was not true.
“Mr. President, if the media reports based on my allegations weren’t true, then why didn’t you just sue me for libel?” Trillanes said in a text message to reporters.
“Just sign a waiver, you liar!” Trillanes said to the President.
“And, by the way, my allegation wasn’t P200 million but more than P2 billion in accumulated credits in your bank accounts,” he added.
Trillanes issued the statement when sought for comment on Duterte’s fresh tirades against the two news organizations, supposedly for their unfair reporting.
In his remarks, Duterte also hit the owners of the media companies, the Prietos of the Inquirer and the Lopezes of ABS-CBN.