If you were wondering at all whether President-elect Rodrigo Duterte is really okay with journalists dying left and right, his spokesperson Atty. Salvador Panelo sets it straight: “The president-elect has not endorsed—cannot—and will never endorse extrajudicial killings, they being contrary to law.”
In a statement released today, Atty. Panelo goes further to say that Duterte “does not condone the killing of journalists nor any citizen for that matter, regardless of its purpose.”
This is to address United Nations Secretary-General Ban-ki Moon’s comments against him, which condemns his “apparent endorsement of extrajudicial killings, which is illegal and a breach of fundamental rights and freedoms.” As you may recall, Duterte spoke out the other week on journalist killings, infamously saying that “just because you’re a journalist you are not exempted from assassination, if you’re a son of a bitch.”
You see, even though he and his spokesperson keep insisting that he doesn’t endorse killings (and we really, really, really hope he doesn’t) what he said in explaining the reality of media people getting murdered doesn’t really help the issue and make us feel safe. Why couldn’t he have said today’s statement in the first place, instead of making some reckless remark on how journalists aren’t exempted from assassination? If you don’t say anything against it, you’re implicitly endorsing it.
The other worse thing about this is that they’re blaming the media for apparently getting his words wrong. “His utterances on media killings were reported incorrectly giving rise to the wrong perception that he was encouraging lawless violence. Consequently, he chastises media persons who practice irresponsible journalism,” said Atty. Panelo.
Dude, the reports were live-tweeted as he was saying the things he said in the press conference. What’s irresponsible about reporting the exact things he was saying? We live in the age of blazing fast media, and while it’s always possible to get things wrong, it’s much easier to report things as they were and immediately issue a correction if there’s a mistake. This is setting a dangerous precedent for unequivocally saying one thing and then blaming the messenger for making him look bad.
It still looks like someone’s cleaning up the messes Duterte makes, and it’s getting harder and harder to tell which parts are genuine and which ones are merely the persona.
“The President-elect reiterates his fealty to the Constitution as well as his determination to suppress criminality in any form. Under a Duterte presidency the Bill of Rights as enshrined in the Constitution shall be in full bloom,” Panelo’s statement ends. We really hope they were keeping it 100, a hundred times over.
Photo by Edwin Bacasmas, Philippine Daily Inquirer