Ombudsman blasts PCIJ journo over interview
MANILA, Philippines — Ombudsman Samuel Martires on Wednesday blasted Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) reporter Malou Mangahas for what he said was her violation of the Anti-wiretapping Law.
He said he did not consent to be recorded in an interview about President Rodrigto Duterte’s statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN), which came out online Wednesday last week.
“I don’t deny that we had a brief conversation when she approached me during an event spearheaded by the Office of the Ombudsman … She did not inform me that she wanted to interview me because if she had, I would have immediately declined,” Martires said.
Martires, who has failed to provide or release a copy of the President’s SALN despite the chief executive’s repeated vow of transparency, also called Mangahas “unethical” for introducing herself as a GMA reporter, even when her article was released on the PCIJ website.
In addition to being a cofounder and current executive director of the PCIJ, Mangahas is also the host of the public affairs program “Investigative Documentaries” on GMA Network.Martires also accused Mangahas of deliberately pitting him against the President.
In a statement released on Wednesday night, Mangahas said Martires’ office was “well aware” that she intended to ask the Ombudsman questions about his decision not to release the President’s SALN. “(W)hat transpired was a proper interview, a public conversation between a journalist and a public official, on a matter of public concern,” Mangahas said, adding that their numerous but vain attempts to set a formal sit down interview with Martires had culminated in her attendance at the public forum organized by the Office of the Ombudsman, where she properly registered and identified herself.
“If the press was invited to the public forum by a public agency, there was no real problem if journalists from PCIJ would also attend it,” Mangahas added.
She also reiterated her original request for Martires to release the President’s SALN. Under the SALN law (Republic Act No. 6713), the Ombudsman is deemed custodian of the SALNs of the President, Vice President, senior officials, and star-rank military and police officers.
In Wednesday’s statement, Martires did not address the question on the release of Duterte’s SALN, despite the go signal from Malacañang.
Instead he said that while he understood the public’s right to know, he also had a duty to protect the rights and interests of public officials according to the implementing rules and regulations of RA 6713, or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.
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