MANILA - The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) on Tuesday criticized President-elect Rodrigo Duterte's statement on media killings.
"It is appalling that President-elect Rodrigo Duterte should justify the murder of journalists in the country by playing the corruption card," the NUJP said in a statement.
Duterte said in a press conference Tuesday that he believes journalists in the Philippines are killed because many are corrupt. This, after he was 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.
(READ: Duterte: Journalists are killed for being corrupt)
While the NUJP does not dismiss the idea that corruption may be behind several of the media killings, the organization maintained that "it is one thing to recognize a possible reason for murder; it is a totally different thing to present this as a justification for taking life."
"Murder is no joke. Neither is press freedom," NUJP emphasized.
On Friday, Manila-based crime journalist Alex Balcoba was shot dead outside a watch repair shop owned by his family.
Duterte sent his transition team spokesperson Peter Laviña to condole with Balcoba's family during his wake.
Laviña on Monday said Duterte intends to create a task force that will investigate killings involving media men.
He also said that the president-elect will appoint a special prosecutor who will focus on prosecuting those involved in journalist killings.
However, Duterte seemed to have carried a different tune come Tuesday during his press conference.
NUJP said that "the independent Philippine media will not be cowed from fulfilling its duty to act as the people’s watchdog."