MANILA- Liberal Party senators on Friday reacted to President Rodrigo Duterte’s latest tirades against the Catholic Church, European Union, and local media, saying a critical press better serves a democracy.
In separate statements, Senators Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan, Leila de Lima, and Akbayan lawmaker Risa Hontiveros highlighted the importance of a free press in a democracy.
Pangilinan said previous Philippine presidents all had their share of "squaring off with the press."
“Our individual freedoms and our democracy are better served by a free and critical press," he said.
"All these presidents have since left Malacañang but the press is still very much around," he added.
Duterte on Thursday lashed out at The Philippine Daily Inquirer and ABS-CBN, for supposedly twisting news reports.
"Ganun yan. Makita mo talagang tini-twist nila yung talagang slant na slant. They do not complete the sentences," Duterte said.
Hontiveros said she was no longer surprised with Duterte's expletive-laden remarks, and urged the media instead to exercise their journalistic rights.
“Amid these trying times, I urge my friends in the media to continue to exercise their journalistic rights. I also urge our friends in the international community to continue to extend their solidarity to us,” Hontiveros said.
She also criticized Duterte for his language and called out the President for being “inconsistent and guided by a double standard.”
“President Duterte can lambast several media outfits as controlled by oligarchs but is sheepish towards the Marcoses, who during Martial Law created their own oligarchy. The President is tough on poor drug dependents but can't muster the same tough stance against big-time drug lords like Peter Lim,” she said.
De Lima, a staunch critic of Duterte, urged the President to fix internal fights within his administration instead of quarrelling with the media.
"Why blame the media when there is much of Duterte's behavior and that of his circle of sycophants that warrants scrutiny and even censure," said De Lima, detained at the Custodial Center in Camp Crame, in a handwritten note.
“Go fix first yourself and your own backyard Mr. President, before picking a fight with everybody else," she added.