'I don't owe them': Roque rejects NUJP call to apologize for berating reporter

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 20 2020 10:30 AM | Updated as of May 20 2020 10:54 AM

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MANILA — Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque on Wednesday rejected a call by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) to apologize to a reporter he publicly berated for allegedly misquoting him about coronavirus mass testing. 

The official during a live briefing on Tuesday singled out CNN Philippines reporter Triciah Terada for an online article headlined "Up to private sector to carry out mass testing, Roque says amid limited testing capacity."

"It was a wrong quote. It was a misquote because the context that the mass testing had to do with the Wuhan-type testing was omitted," Roque told ANC. "We do not have the same kind of testing that Wuhan is doing." 

Wuhan City in central China, the global epicenter of the pandemic, will test all of its 11 million residents

Unlike Wuhan, the Philippines is rolling out "expanded targeted testing", he said. 

Based on international standards, governments should test 1 to 2 percent of the population, which is "a good statistical sample." In virus epicenters like Metro Manila, authorities aim to test 10 percent of residents while in barangays with high infection rate, all residents are screened with help from the private sector, said Roque. 

Roque on Tuesday told CNN's Terada: "Hindi po mass testing ang ginagawa natin (what we are doing is not mass testing); it is expanded targeted testing." 

"I have to call you out at ikaw lang ang nag-report ng ganyan (you're the only one who reported that)," he said. 

Terada said she did not write CNN Philippines' online article. Other news organizations like Rappler, Inquirer, and Philstar also ran similar stories. 

NUJP described Roque's reprimand of the reporter as "boorish and, as it turned out, misbegotten tirade."

"I don't owe anything to NUJP. I've done work for NUJP. They probably owe me, I don't owe them," Roque said. 

CNN Philippines said it accurately reported Roque's remarks.

"It is likewise regrettable that Ms. Terada was not given a chance to challenge the allegations made against her and defend herself from the public attack that could harm her reputation as a journalist and a professional," it added