JOURNALISTS and media organizations should be thankful to President-elect Rodrigo Duterte for stating the fact that there are corrupt journalists (and, by extension, corrupt media organizations) page 1 and prime time news. Thanks to him, corruption in journalism became a subject of national discourse last week.
That there is corruption in the media and there are corrupt journalists is something that everybody knows—from Batanes to Sabah. But people in high places and politicians rarely talk about it.
Politicians don’t talk about that issue because some of these politicians have been, in the first place, the corruptors. If not that, some of them are at least willing participants in corrupt media undertakings or in a journalist’s suppression of damaging stories or publication of favorable but untruthful stories.
We, in The Manila Times, are pleased that the President-elect spoke out about corruption in our industry. For we have been very vigilant about this. We are proud to say that we have let go of a number of corrupt employees through the years.
On the murder of journalists, Mr. Duterte said many journalists in the Philippines are killed for being corrupt. “Kaya namamatay kasi karamihan diyan nabayaran na. They take sides or sobrahan ang atake, getting personal,” he said. “If you are an upright journalist, nothing will happen to you… The example here is Pala. I do not want to diminish his memory but he is [was]a rotten son of a bitch. He deserved it,” he said.
Juan “Jun” Pala, a local broadcaster on dxGO, was also a politician. He had untiringly criticized Mr. Duterte. Motorcycle-borne gunmen murdered him in Davao in 2003. His murder is an unsolved crime until now.
‘Journalists are legitimate targets of assassination’
Thanks to President-elect Duterte’s statements—which Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel 3rd, president of PDP-Laban, clarified—we know now that Mr. Duterte thinks corrupt journalists are “legitimate targets of assassination.”
We appreciate our future President’s forthrightness and transparency, letting us know this frightening outlook of his. Mr. Duterte himself has said he thinks many (if not most) journalists are clean.
But we, journalists, have enemies, including fellow journalists who are capable of making mayors and governors wrongly believe that a good journalist they envy is corrupt. Now, with Mr. Duterte’s statement, we journalists are better warned. We can, therefore, take steps to protect ourselves from assassins in case we get mistakenly identified to be corrupt.
Mr. Duterte’s statements also suggest to us that he knows who the corrupt journalists and media organizations are. He would be helping improve Philippine journalism a lot if he named more names of “son-of-a-bitch” journalists, their newspapers and broadcast organizations. By identifying the bad eggs he knows in the media, he would embolden other politicians and officials to speak out.
If Mr. Duterte announced the names of other “rotten” journalists, the good ones should then be spared the stigma of corruption and be able to cleanse the profession, trade and industry of journalism in our country.
We need your help, President-elect Rody Duterte.