DAVAO CITY – President-elect Rodrigo Duterte was unfazed by the boycott called for by Reporters without Borders over statements about extra-judicial killings of journalists, even as he offered no apologies for his earlier statement.
“No apologies. If you do not like it – fine,” said Duterte, who called for a press conference on Thursday night to speak about the three kinds of journalists and journalism in the Philippines after drawing flak from the media over a statement that most of the journalists who were killed were corrupt.
Duterte was dismayed how his statements were taken out of context, making it appear he was endorsing killings of media. He debunked accusations he was endorsing media killings and that all of those who killed were corrupt.
Duterte urged reporters to review the tapes.
His statement drew flak from the media, the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines and the Reporters without Borders, an organization of journalists that promotes and defends freedom of information and freedom of the press.
Instead, Duterte urged the media to boycott him. “Boycott me. It will be good you will disappear…I urge you to make this your last trip in Davao City. Do not threaten me. I said I’m ready to lose the presidency, my honor or my life. Just do not f… with me,” Duterte said. He further urged the media to make history in Malacañang by not covering his inauguration.
“I don’t need you. I would tell the Cabinet to avoid you,” he said. He said he would just rely on the government’s television network to cover his inauguration or content himself with someone taking pictures with a camera or cellular phone.
“Kill journalism. Stop journalism in this country. If you are worth your salt you should accept the challenge. Kapag hindi talagang mababa na ang tingin ko sa inyo…parang takot na kayo (If not, then I will think lowly of you. You really are cowards),” said Duterte.
Duterte further exposed the dimensions of journalists and journalism in the Philippines although he said, “I do not claim to be an authority for the subject. Let me just share with you the way of the vignettes of life” then recalled his exposure in politics from the time of his father – the late governor of the undivided Davao, Vicente Duterte.
“I am not here to beautify a journalist – that’s not my business,” he said, adding that in the matter of killings of journalists – it happens everywhere.
He said there are three dimensions of journalists and they face risks for doing their job.
Duterte named the crusaders of truth – the journalists who are telling the truth, baring it all before the public and do not accept money because telling the truth and their profession matter more for them. But they invite danger, too for telling the truth.
He said some of the crusaders are not being killed because their opinions are respected and they are righteous.
The second dimension are the press relations officers, who are writing for the vested interests of people like miners, mining companies and they are engage in journalism as publicist or PROs to defend business and personalities.
The third are the low-life journalists, whom Duterte described as vultures of journalism, who are accepting money from illegal sources exposing jueteng and in return shut their mouth and receive money. “These are the guys whose greed is unlimited… paid now and they ask for more and if there’s nothing coming their way they took more and they destroy people and family and… they die,” he told reporters.
He said the low-life journalists destroy the dignity and honor of the people. “There is always a reckoning because the Philippines until now considers honor and life on the same level,” he reminded.
Duterte said it has been common knowledge among politicians and the media that there’s always the “paid hacks”.
“It’s about time we bare the truth. Let us not deny each other the truth. The problem is if you ask questions… as if the persons killed are the same because they are journalists,” said Duterte, emphasizing, “I am saying this with excuses… without apologies… you like to hear it – fine… if you do not – so be it!”
“Do not ever think you are in the field of purity,” said Duterte, adding that journalists are like the police and military that once they go out they are already in danger. “You guys – you think too much of yourselves,” Duterte said.
“There is veil of hypocrisy. Let us unveil it so we can understand each other… live in a democracy that is run by truth and not by vested interest of people who pretended to be… who have pretensions,” he added.
But he pointed out he can never protect every journalist in the country.