Duterte firm on shunning media, says spokesman

Christian V. Esguerra, ABS-CBN News

DAVAO CITY - President-elect Rodrigo Duterte is rejecting interviews for now in response to a call to boycott his press conferences until he apologizes for his statement on media killings, his spokesman said Monday.

"Unang-una, yun naman yung hiningi ng media," Salvador Panelo told ABS-CBN News.

He added that Duterte's statements were not coming out "as accurately as they should" in media reports.

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Panelo could not say how long Duterte would shun media interviews but said the President-elect would still be "transparent" about his activities through his spokesman and other appointees.

"Sa ngayon yan ang kanyang patakaran," he said. "But then again, even assuming that to be, kahit na patagalan, wala pa rin namang kurtina na nakatakip o bintanang sinarado. Open pa rin e."

Duterte was irked when asked in an interview last week about an international watchdog group's call for Filipino journalists to boycott his press conferences.

The Paris-based Reporters Sans Frontiers (RSF) wants Duterte to apologize for saying that many of the journalists killed in the Philippines were paid hacks and were corrupt.

"Just because you’re a journalist, you are not exempted from assassination if you’re a son of a b****," he told reporters last week.

The RSF lists the Philippines as the third most dangerous country in the world for journalists. Topping the list is war-torn Syria followed by Iraq.

Panelo criticized journalists covering Duterte here for "keeping silent" on the boycott demand.

"That means all media organizations are agreeing to that," he said. "Kaya pinagbigyan kayo ni Mayor Duterte."

Panelo said Duterte was not "justifying" media killings as what supposedly appeared in some reports.

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Asked if Duterte should also speak more clearly next time, Panelo said journalists should instead be more "conscientious" in listening to him.

"Siya ang pinaka-klarong presidenteng narinig ko na e," he said.

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In a speech before tens of thousands of supporters at a thanksgiving party here last Saturday, Duterte lambasted the wrong Davao-based reporter for asking about his medical condition in a previous press conference.

He cited Philippine Daily Inquirer correspondent Karlos Manlupig. But in a Facebook post, Manlupig said the question was asked by another reporter.

Duterte said he found the question “very impertinent,” then ridiculed the reporter by saying: “‘How is the vagina of your wife? Is it smelly? Or not smelly? Give me the report. Bastos eh.’”

Panelo downplayed Duterte's outburst. He said the President-elect was just citing a "parallel situation" and pointing out that the question on his health should not have been asked.

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