Duterte: Media always on the lookout for mistakes

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 18 2017 07:33 PM | Updated as of Jan 18 2017 08:18 PM

Malacanang Press Corps denies misreporting Duterte's statement on martial law

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday blasted the media anew after he was quoted as saying that he would declare martial law if the country’s drug problem worsens into something “virulent.”

In a speech in Nueva Ecija, Duterte said it does not bother him if the media will catch him saying he would kill drug suspects, noting that journalists are always on the lookout for controversial statements. 

“I would proclaim iyan (killing drug suspects). Nasa harap ko ang nationwide TV. Susunod sunod yang mga yan eh, kasi naghahanap ng mali. Hindi ako nagkakamali talagang papatayin kita. Kayo ang nagkamali, kayo ang patayin ko,” Duterte said.

The renewed spat between Duterte and the media came after the president said over the weekend that he would declare martial law.

"If I wanted to, and it [the drug war] will deteriorate into something really very virulent, I will declare martial law if I wanted to. No one will be able to stop me,” Duterte said in a speech on Saturday, January 14.

"If I have to declare martial law, I will declare it -- not about invasion, insurrection, not about danger. I will declare martial law to preserve my nation –- period."

The media’s reportage on the matter did not sit well with Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, who accused the media of “misreporting” the president’s statement.

Other Cabinet officials, such as Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II and chief legal counsel Salvador Panelo, also sought to downplay Duterte’s weekend statement.

In its response to Andanar, the Malacañang Press Corps said journalists only reported what the president said.

“We take exception to the statement of Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar accusing the media of ‘misreporting’ President Rodrigo Duterte's statement about Martial Law. A review of the President's speech last Saturday in Davao City would reveal that the media merely paraphrased or translated some of his remarks,” the group said.

“The media has no obligation to please or satisfy its sources because its loyalty is to the citizens, those who will be affected by the actions of people who are far more powerful than them. We encourage the good secretary and his officials to read the entire news stories, not just the heads or titles, to get a better picture of the media's coverage of the President.”

The press corps also lashed out at Duterte’s official defenders for their “propensity” to “blame the media whenever the inflammatory statements of the president stir controversy or draw flak.”

“This trend should stop as it would not contribute to the elevation of the level of public discourse,” the group said.

“We hope that such behavior is not an attempt to discredit or undermine the media, which plays a crucial role in keeping our democracy healthy and checking those in power, and supplant them with information sources that would push for an agenda that is less noble than the truth.”

‘MEDIA NOT LISTENING’

In his speech today, Duterte accused the media of being obsessed with his statements on martial law.

“Ang media kasi hindi nakikinig eh. Ang narinig lang nila yung martial law,” he said.

“Hindi ako stupido, mas bright tayo sa kanila. Sa totoo lang, kung mas bright sila sa akin, sila ngayon ang gumagamit nito,” Duterte added, referring to the presidential podium.

Duterte again lamented the limits set by the Constitution on the declaration of martial law.

Under the Constitution, congressional approval is needed if the imposition of martial law will exceed 60 days. Any citizen may also challenge the basis of the declaration of the martial law before the SC.

He said if this is the case, then the SC and Congress will most likely clash, since the legislative branch is usually allied with the executive.

“Who decides now? Ang Supreme Court sabi huwag. Sabi ng Congress yes. Who decides? The sitting president. So ako,” he said.

Duterte also lashed out at the media for supposedly misinterpreting his recent pronouncements on martial law.

“Itong newspaper, ‘Duterte martial law’. I will not declare martial law, at kung mag-declare ako ng martial law, di ako mag-ingay,’ he said.

“Basta ako, it is not found in the Constitution. It is not written there. But if I feel as a president that [if] I have to preserve my country, I will declare martial law.”