DAVAO CITY - President-elect Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday said he believes journalists in the Philippines are killed because many are corrupt.
Duterte issued the comment when asked how his administration would solve media killings.
He said the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of the press cannot protect a journalist from getting killed especially if he is a “son of a b****.”
“Kaya namamatay kasi karamihan diyan nabayaran na. They take sides or sobrahan ang atake, getting personal,” Duterte claimed.
“Just because you are a journalist you are exempted from assassination… Freedom of expression (sic) cannot help you if you have done something wrong.”
For Duterte, a journalist need not fear anything if he knows he has not committed anything wrong.
“Kung papatayin ka talaga, papatayin ka. There is no way to note that the next victim would be a journalist,” he said. “Hindi ka naman talaga papatayin kung wala kang ginawa.”
Duterte cited the case of Jun Pala, a hard-hitting Duterte critic who was killed in 2003.
“Si Jun Pala, he was a rotten son of a bitch,” he alleged.
Asked whether this was enough reason to kill Pala, Duterte said: “That is the reason. You are asking me why? That is the reason. Na sinabi mo hindi dapat, you have to debate with the killer.”
National Union of Journalists of the Philippines chairperson Ryan Rosauro said Duterte’s statement was uncalled for.
“I take exception to the pronouncements of president-elect Duterte that tends to suggest it is okay to get a journalist killed if he or she is involved in a corrupt practice. We would like to stress that extrajudicial killing will not eliminate media corruption which is a systemic problem as much as a question of professional ethics,” Rosauro told ABS-CBN News in a text message.
“We also stress that journalists were killed because of their work in exposing corruption and malfeasance in government. That only shows professional commitment. Hence, no matter the weaknesses of Philippine media, it will be a major factor in any effort to cleanse government of the scourge of graft and corruption which Mr. Duterte seeks to achieve during his six-year rule,” he said.
The world's deadliest attack on media workers happened in the Philippines in 2009 when 58 people, including 32 journalists, were murdered in Maguindanao.
Members of the influential Ampatuan political clan are accused of masterminding the massacre, wherein some of the victims were shot in their genitals before they were buried in a hilltop grave using an excavator.
No one has yet been convicted over the killings.
READ: Maguindanao massacre kin don't see justice coming soon
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has identified the Philippines as world's second most dangerous place for journalists.
The report said Philippines is second only to Iraq, where at least 309 journalists have been killed in recent years.