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Duterte to media: That’s it, no interviews in my term

DAVAO CITY—Stung by the  heavy criticism over his remarks on media killings, President-elect Rodrigo Duterte has threatened to shun the media throughout the duration of his six-year term.

In apparent retaliation for the call of an international media watchdog to boycott his news briefings, Duterte said he had decided not to talk to the media after he drew flak for appearing to justify the killing of “corrupt” journalists.

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“I’m sorry, but I will really boycott (the media),” he told TV5 in a chance interview at a hotel here on Sunday night.

Asked for how long , he said: “Until the end of my term.”

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“That’s it. I don’t want to be interviewed. If I commit a mistake, there will be more criticisms,” Duterte said. “So it’s better (if there’s) no interview, no criticisms, no wrong statements, no nothing. (I will just) shut up. I really don’t want it,” he added.

Unlike during previous expletive-laced encounters with journalists, Duterte appeared calm during his brief interview with TV5 reporter France Noguera.

Last week, the incoming president was asked how he intended to address the unabated killings of media workers, an unfortunate distinction which has made the Philippines the second most dangerous country for journalists.

“Even if you are a journalist, you are not exempted from assassination if you’re a son of a bitch,” Duterte told a press briefing.

“Most of those killed were paid to take sides or they got paid but they failed (to deliver). Or they took money but still hit them,” he said.

His remarks sparked outrage from local and international human rights organizations and news groups.

Public apology

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In reaction, Reporters Without Borders urged journalists covering Duterte to stay away from his press conferences as a sign of protest “until the media community gets a public apology.”

But the trash-talking mayor did not budge, challenging the media instead to make good on its warning to boycott his press briefings.

“Go ahead, boycott me. I’m urging you: Make this trip your last to Davao City. I do not care if no one is covering me,” he said.

As this developed, various media groups in the country sought to  clarify Duterte’s misconception they had  called for a boycott of his press conferences.

Girlie Linao of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines  (Focap) said the group did not call for a boycott of Duterte but merely issued a statement on his comments on media killings.

In its statement, Focap said it was “alarmed by President-elect  Rodrigo Duterte’s sweeping pronouncement, which could embolden attacks on  the working press.”

“While saying that most of the media killings were motivated by corruption  involving the victims, the president-elect did not provide evidence that  can be used to bring the perpetrators to justice or condemn the killings  to discourage future attacks,” Focap said.

In its statement, the NUJP said it was the international group—Reporters Without Borders—that had called for the boycott.

“For the record, it was the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders  that issued the call, one that was,  rightly, not heeded by the Philippine media,” said NUJP president Ryan  Rosauro.

“The NUJP and other media organizations clearly said  that to boycott the president-elect would be to abdicate our duties and  responsibilities to inform the Filipino people,” Rosauro added.

The Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, National Press  Club and the Cagayan de Oro Press Club issued similar  statements.

The Philippine Press Institute  called on Duterte to  “commit (himself) in no uncertain terms to protecting journalists and other  media workers in the country and thus uphold the constitutionally enshrined freedom of the press.”

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TAGS: Media, Nation, news, press freedom, Rodrigo Duterte
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