MANILA - Malacañang on Thursday denied Reuters' claim that they did not respond to the latter's inquiries regarding a group of Davao police officers who racked up kills in the administration's drug war.
In a statement, Communications Assistant Secretary Queenie Dizon said she was in Biliran, which was severely devastated by tropical depression "Urduja," when Reuters sought the Palace's comment on the "Davao Boys."
"I strongly denounce Reuters’ claim that the 'President’s office never responded to our questions' as untrue in so many levels," the statement read.
"While it is correct that Reuters sent the Office an email mid-last week questions regarding the Davao police, we have to bear in mind that there are more pressing matters that the Office has to attend to, such as explaining/discussing to our people the preparation our frontline agencies are doing for the coming typhoon (Urduja), among others."
Dizon said she spoke to Reuters reporter Clare Baldwin on Tuesday, after missing a call from her on Monday.
"The writer of the article, Clare Baldwin, called me on December 18, Monday night, and I wasn't able to answer/saw a missed call since I was in Biliran...in the middle of the sea, carried by a small boat on the way back to Tacloban. Is Ms. Baldwin’s story more important while I was in Ground Zero of Typhoon Urduja?" she said.
"I told her to just give me a day, just a day, to send her the vetted answers. There is nothing to hide. I have even challenged Ms. Baldwin to record our conversation to see how our conversation with her transpired. I find Ms. Baldwin’s one-sided conduct unbecoming of a journalist," she added.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque earlier slammed the Reuters report and called it "bad journalism," saying he was given little time to respond to allegations it contained.
“I did not meet the ultimatum, and therefore, I would not comment on the story because that’s bad journalism. You don’t write a story and give government a timeline to respond, otherwise, they will go ahead and publish a story. I thought that was really foul,” Roque said in a press briefing.
“That’s bad journalism. She went ahead and published it without my statement and how dare anyone give anyone a deadline to respond.”
Reuters, meanwhile, said it repeatedly sought Malacañang's side.
"The claim that Reuters gave the President's office just an hour to respond is untrue. Reuters sent questions to the President's office a week before the story was published and the President's office confirmed it had received them," it said.
"Reuters followed that up with phone calls and emails, but the President's office never responded to our questions."