MANILA - Media personalities, groups and advocates on Friday called on the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) to explain why President Rodrigo Duterte's July 13 speech in Sulu was "sanitized."
Titled "The Truth, No More, No Less," a statement issued by 60 signatories demanded that all presidential pronouncements are aired live and unfiltered.
"How can people continue to trust government's pronouncements when the president's own words are manipulated and then twisted by those who speak on his behalf?" reads the statement, posted on the Facebook account of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism.
"How can we now be sure that the president's earlier pre-recorded pronouncements were NOT edited in the same way?"
An aired taped speech of Duterte before soldiers in Sulu last Monday, as well as an official transcript of it, did not refer to specific prominent family businesses in the country when Duterte talked about dismantling oligarchy.
There was also no mention of ABS-CBN, which, on July 10, was denied a broadcast franchise by the House Committee on Legislative Franchises, in fulfillment of Duterte's earlier threats.
According to Presidential spokesman Harry Roque, Duterte was referring in his aired taped speech to “Lucio Tan, Manny Pangilinan, and the (Zobel de) Ayala clan” and not the Lopezes of media giant ABS-CBN.
He also reiterated that Duterte remains neutral "because the Lopezes are still up and about."
Sen. Bong Go, Duterte's former longtime aide, also denied that the chief executive was "pertaining to any specific case" when he talked about dismantling an oligarchy.
But an unedited audio recording of the speech that surfaced later contains portions in which Duterte specifically ranted against the Ayalas, as well as the Lopez family that owns ABS-CBN.
He was also heard tackling issues against ABS-CBN, although he denied being responsible for the broadcast company's shutdown.
"Yun namang ABS-CBN binaboy ako. Pero sinabi ko, kapag ako nanalo, bubuwagin ko ang oligarchy ng Pilipinas. Ginawa ko," Duterte was heard saying in the "unfiltered" recording part of his speech acquired by reporters.
(ABS-CBN sullied me. But I said, if I win, I will dismantle the oligarchy in the Philippines. And I did it.)
For the media practitioners, groups and advocates, the least PCOO owes the people it "professes to serve is the truth, no more, no less."
"If, as many say, the words of the chief executive carry the weight of policy, what other 'policies' have we not been told about?" they said.
news.abs-cbn.com is the official news website of ABS-CBN Corp.