The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) on Thursday lashed out at Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre, who claimed that he was "unfortunately misquoted" regarding the Marawi siege.
“There was no misquotation. Your words were recorded on video and audio. So, no, you are not passing the buck on to reporters who did what they are supposed to do – accurately report your official acts and pronouncements,” NUJP said in a statement.
"We the media will not be the scapegoats," it added.
The group said Aguirre did not tell the truth when he claimed he was "misquoted" regarding the "fictitious meeting between opposition politicians and prominent Marawi clans."
Aguirre earlier linked Senators Antonio Trillanes and Bam Aquino, Magdalo Party-list Representative Gary Alejano, and Ronald Llamas, political adviser of former president Benigno Aquino III in the Marawi siege.
He alleged that they met with the Alonto and Lucman clans on May 2, three weeks before the Maute attacks in Marawi, and said their meeting could have “sparked terroristic acts.”
He also claimed that he had a photo as a proof of the meeting, which turned out to be an image taken on Sept. 4, 2015 at the Iloilo International Airport.
Aguirre later backtracked and recanted his statements.
The Justice and Court Reporters Association (JUCRA), in a separate statement, said they quoted Aguirre verbatim and “only reported the facts to our viewers and readers.”
“As responsible journalists, we also took the opportunity to perform our duty of verifying and counterchecking the information and photo that the Secretary has presented during the briefing, and found that several details and information were wrong,” JUCRA said.
“We remain committed to our role as a watchdog, especially in these times when 'fake news' have been spreading in social media and the truth is becoming scarce.”