'Creative imagination'? Journalists are in business of reporting

Demerie Dangla, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 06 2016 01:42 AM | Updated as of Oct 06 2016 08:34 PM

Journalists are not in the business of imagining, contrary to the suggestion of Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella, Center of Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) Board of Trustees chairman Vergel Santos said Wednesday.

"News people are not in the business of imagining. They're in the business of reporting," the veteran journalist said in a phone interview with ABS-CBN News Channel.

Abella earlier said that journalists should "use creative imagination" when reporting what President Rodrigo Duterte says.

Duterte has been known for controversial remarks and pronouncements, which have caught the attention of international media. 

According to Abella, media should know better about Duterte's style in regard to his outlandish remarks and should not take them literally.

But for Santos, the problem does not lie on how media reports or understands the president, rather in the president's men.

"I think the problem lies with the other side.... The president's own people don't seem to understand him," Santos said.

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea earlier released a memorandum that barred other members of the Cabinet from speaking on behalf of Duterte.

This, after some Cabinet members contradicted the President's own words in several occasions.

Santos believes that Duterte can be clearly understood in what he says, and that journalists -- who have been threatened on social media and accused of misinterpreting Duterte -- are only reporting whatever that comes out of the President's mouth.

Santos also pointed out that the president himself is also a problem, saying that "the president cannot help himself. He doesn't seem to be open to any coaching or counseling or whatever."

Santos also added: "It is not for us to help them. It is for them to help themselves. The relationship between the media and the president is not like that. Our business is to report the president -- what he does and what he says."

He said this is possible by putting what Duterte says "in context and perspective."