FOCAP slams Roque over ‘condescending’ response to BBC reporter
MANILA, Philippines — The Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP) called out presidential spokesperson Harry Roque on Wednesday after his “condescending” remarks to a reporter from BBC.
FOCAP released a statement after Roque earlier asked BBC reporter Virma Rivera to call Malacañang on a report she wrote about Filipino fishers being barred from fishing at Scarborough Shoal by Chinese ships.
Roque’s exact words were: “Virma, tumawag ka nang matanong mo naman si Mayor, iyong mga may-ari ng lantsa at saka ang PCG kasi tinawag iyong report ninyo ng isang may-ari ng lantsa na tsismis ‘no. In fairness to you, tumawag ka ngayon, I will link you up with them para naman malinawan kung ano iyang report mo.”
(Virma, you should call now so that you could ask the mayor, the ship owners, and the PGC because they called your report hearsay. In fairness to you, you should call now. I will link you up with them so your report could be clarified.)
According to FOCAP, Roque used a condescending tone and tried to paint the reporter with “ill motive.”
“The tone of Sec. Roque dismissing the BBC report as deception and rumor was disparaging and condescending, as he sought to assign ill motive to the network’s report and singled out Ms Rivera for it,” said FOCAP in a statement on Twitter.
FOCAP said that while Roque has the right to dispute allegations, “there is no justification for insinuating Ms Rivera and her team, which includes BBC correspondent Howard Johnson, are out to destroy the government.”
“FOCAP members Ms Rivera, Mr Johnson, and the rest of the BBC were merely doing their jobs. They reported what they saw, and presented the story they were told,” it added.
1/6 The Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP) is deeply disturbed about the way Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque responded to a question raised by Virma Rivera, a video journalist and producer for the BBC.
— FOCAP (@FOCAP2020) July 14, 2021
Unfortunately, Roque has a history of disrespecting reporters, in particular women, according to FOCAP.
In May 2021, Roque admonished CNN reporter Triciah Terada for her failure to correct a “misquoted” story she didn’t even write.
Meanwhile, on January 20, 2021, Roque snapped at CNN Philippines’ Pinky Webb after he was asked a question, which according to him, was “unfair.”
'HAIR FLIP IS LIFE'
Broadcast journalist Pinky Webb posted on Twitter a clip from her viral interview with presidential spokesperson Harry Roque on CNN Philippines' The Source.
— Inquirer (@inquirerdotnet) January 20, 2021
The issue was sparked by reports that Filipino fishermen were barred from fishing along the disputed waters in Scarborough Shoal.
Arsenia Lim, Masinloc’s mayor, said fishermen in her town still fish in the Scarborough Shoal, saying that the issue arose only because of the approaching elections. Philippine Coast Guard spokesman Commodore Armand Balilo said they have yet to receive reports of Chinese forces barring local fishermen from fishing in the area.