'Truthful, apolitical' press has nothing to fear from 10 Dutertes: Jiggy Manicad

David Dizon, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 26 2019 09:34 AM | Updated as of Feb 26 2019 10:50 AM

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Senatorial candidate Jiggy Manicad has a piece of advice for journalists: a press that is impartial, apolitical, fair, and truthful in reporting has nothing to fear from even 10 President Dutertes.

"As long as we are on the side of the truth, truth lang ang pinanghahawakan natin, we are impartial, we are apolitical, we are fair, we are truthful in our reporting, kahit 10 President Duterte pa ang manakot, bakit tayo matatakot? Bakit tayo matatakot if we are on the side of the truth? Pero kung meron tayong...skeletons diyan, medyo aatras tayo," Manicad, a veteran journalist of 23 years, told ANC's Headstart.

"Kung wala kang tinatago...nandun 'yung integrity mo, 'yun ang panlaban mo, pambangga mo kahit sinong dictator man or tyrant man," he added.

Manicad has come under fire for saying in an interview that government has basis for investigating and filing cases against news website Rappler.

Asked about the recent arrest of Rappler CEO Maria Ressa for a cyber libel case, he said he does not know the evidence used by Wilfredo Keng in filing the case.

Rappler's article had claimed that Keng's luxury vehicle was used by former Chief Justice Renato Corona during the impeachment proceedings against him.

"Hindi ko alam yung basis nung evidence na hawak ng group ni Mister Keng because it is a 2012 case. Of course alam naman natin na as a journalist, law enforcement aencies can do something na di pabor sa atin. I think ang nakikita ko dito is present lahat ng information," Manicad said.

He also said the reporter who did the Rappler story should have found a way to declassify the intel report that was used as basis for the story on Keng.

"If I were the reporter, Day 1 sasabihin ko muna sa source ng intel report, can you release that? Can you have that declassified? Kung hindi, I will find a way to release 'yung intel report na yun. That is the basis of the story, may intel report supposedly saying Mr. Keng did something illegal," he said.

"Kailangan mailabas 'yun para ma appreciate ng publiko at ma appreciate ng iba na ito 'yung pinag-uusapan."

During Tuesday's interview, Manicad was also asked if he believes press freedom is under attack under Duterte.

"As long as we can say whatever we want, pwede nating mapakinggan gusto nating mapakinggan, pwede nating mapanood ang gusto nating mapanood, social media kahit ano gawin sa atin pwede nilang gawin, I think ang press freedom nandun," he said.

He added he takes a "surgical approach" when talking about attacks on press freedom, citing the case of Mindanao Gold Star Daily associate editor Cong Corrales who was recently branded as a member of the New People's Army.

"Matagal ko ng kasama [si Cong]...That is an attack. Hindi fair 'yun para sa kanya. I denounced that as propaganda, 'yung pagkalat ng pictures kasama pa pamilya," he said.

On the other hand, he also said he is thinking of reconsidering his position that libel should stay a crime.

He said that while it is wrong to brand truthful journalists as criminals, he said those victimized by unscrupulous journalists should have some form of redress.

"I might also reconsider my position with that kasi na-realize ko na a journalist being branded a criminal would be talagang masamang tingnan. Naglalahad ka lang naman ng katotohanan, if naglalahad ka ng katotohanan. 'Yun ang point. Internally or within the bounds of the law, kailangan din natin meron tayong regulation. We have to have that responsibility as well," he said.

"Hindi pu-pwede na, di ba, magsusulat ka, magmumura ka, babanatan mo. 'Yun yung abuse of freedom. We have to have our own internal rules na strong, and meron din redress or meron ding redress 'yung mga magiging biktima. Paano kung di totoo on the side of the victims? 'Yun ang nakikita ko para fair sa lahat."