Duterte softens on media
DAVAO CITY—He may have blamed “media spin” on Friday for the twisting of his departure speech that prompted US President Barack Obama to cancel their meeting during last week’s Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) summit, but President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday said he had no grudge against the media for their negative reports about him.
In fact, the President said, the press should “not hesitate to attack or criticize (him) if (he) does wrong in (his) job.”
“Of course I am not at liberty to be angry with anybody. It is your sworn duty to ask questions,” Mr. Duterte told reporters upon his arrival at Davao International Airport from Jakarta around 1 a.m. on Saturday.
“It is also my obligation to the people. I have to make an official report. Wala akong galit sa inyo (I’m not angry with you),” he said.
But the President repeated his earlier denial that he had not directed his departure statement at Obama and that he did not call the US president a “son of a bitch” nor described him as “rude.”
“I was here, you were here, I never attributed any statement to anybody. I was complaining about a situation but I never directed any statement at anybody that was insulting or otherwise not good,” he said.
In his Facebook post on Sept. 8, TV5 anchorman Ed Lingao said he was apologizing for a breaking news item, that said Mr. Duterte had called Obama bastos (rude).
“Unfortunately, that breaking news item was written in error and is not accurate. The President did not call Obama bastos. What he said in his ambush interview in Laos was that it would be ‘improper and highly bastos’ to bring up the issue of (extrajudicial killings) during the bilateral meet. As I understand it, TV5 officials are now looking into how this error was made,” Lingao said.
Mr. Duterte said he had accepted Lingao’s apology.
“And he should not worry because sometimes you commit errors. No question about it. If the others interpret it the way they want, that’s their problem. After all, I am not a player at the international community. I only answer to the Filipino people,” the President said.
“I do not aspire to be a character, but you know very well I did not attribute it to anybody. I said, don’t do that lest we end up insulting each other. I never mentioned any particular (name), I hope they realize it by now,” Mr. Duterte said.
“You know, people commit mistake(s), some with malice, some without malice. If it is just a mere shortfall of talent (it’s all right) … but I appreciate (Lingao’s) apology. I would like to presume you did it without malice because that’s your job,” he said.
Mr. Duterte said the media could criticize him all they wanted and he would not care. “You can destroy me, attack me, criticize me,” he said, adding that journalists should “not hesitate to attack or criticize (him) if (he) does wrong in (his) job.”
“It is your duty to the country,” he said.
Mr. Duterte also appealed for understanding if he sometimes does not respond to media queries. “If I do not answer, I am not in the mood,” the President said.
At the same time, Mr. Duterte stressed that he does not have an obligation to please anybody.
“Of course, for the lowlifes (among the media), nothing is too good to be true but let them be,” the President said.
“They don’t think of what’s at stake here,” he added. TVJ
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