Whenever the president- elect Rody Duterte held midnight news conferences, where, as always, his talks centered on drugs and corruption, he couldn’t help himself but turn livid. It is as if an active volcano growled inside him.
One would know it when he raised his forehead and squinted his eyes. His lips stretched thin and skewed, while his right arm chopped the air with force. Then he spewed out his dirty ditty the famous of which, is his crunchy “put…ina”.
In most time, his anger led to tactlessness. Like when Duterte claimed that the media workers are killed for being corrupt, and as such, is not a guarantee that they can be protected by the freedom of the press.
“Kaya namamatay kasi karamihan diyan nabayaran na. They take sides or sobrahan ang atake, getting personal.
Just because you are a journalist you are exempted from assassination…” Duterte said.
Days before the news conference, Alex Balcoba, a “People’s Brigada” tabloid reporter was murdered. Duterte was asked what his plan to solve the media killing.
As Duterte is well aware of the institutionalized corruption in the media industry – known in the trade as “attack-collect, defend-collect” (AC-DC) journalist, and this “Envelopmental Journalism” or “ATM Journalism” – so incensed, Duterte blurted out that journalists get killed because of corruption – as if to justify the murder.
Four news organizations and press freedom watchdogs reacted to Duterte’s claim.
The National Union of Journalist of the Philippines (NUJP) insinuated that it is an attempt for Duterte to silence the media. The group also emphasized that nothing, not even corruption, can justify the murder.
The Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), said some journalists have been killed because they exposed corruption in the government.
The Philippine Press institute (PPI) stressed that Duterte’s statement contradicted what it says in the statutory protection of the press to report without fear of reprisal.
The International Watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RWB) ask Duterte to apologize for his remarks and urge the Philippine Media to boycott Duterte’s news briefing.
The boycott idea even welcomed by the Duterte. He would not apologize. He does not care if gets publicity or not. He even lambasted the media of thinking too highly of themselves and warned them to make that news conference their last trip to Davao City. Meanwhile, Duterte will just use the PTV-4, the government-owned Television Station for his pronouncement and briefing. And he will not give interviews and press con for the rest of his term.
This would deny the news organizations of the pot of gold, because, admittedly, Duterte is a good copy. And at the same time, Duterte would be creating his own mouthpiece which, can contaminate the truth.
The NUJP was quick to point out they were not the one who suggested boycott but the international media watchdog. The media people blinked, so to speak.
The people in the media industry are in good company with the Catholic Bishop Conference of the Philippines (CBCP). Both organizations blinked, and have good lashings; because Duterte had the goods on them: Corruption.
What compelling argument did Duterte use to make these organizations “blinked” and keep them at bay?
Almost always during Duterte’s midnight press conferences this quip has been his favorite. Depending on which one he would lash out for the day because of corruption, he would just alter a word or two.
The following quip, he said this to the CBCP, but follow the same thread when he said this to the media industry people.
Duterte said: “I can sit the whole six years of the presidency exposing you and attacking you. I can lose my life and honor any time. I will not die if I don’t become President. So don’t f*** with me!”