After blaming media for making a big deal of his “strong comments” that led to the cancellation of his meeting with US President Barack Obama, President Rodrigo Duterte said he harbors no grudge against journalists and even invited media to “attack” him if he does wrong.
Arriving in Davao City from his trips to Laos and Indonesia, Duterte told reporters that it is their duty to ask questions.
“I am not at liberty to be angry at anybody. It is your sworn duty to ask questions. It is also my obligation to the people for the money spent from this trip and for all of the things that cost the Filipino, I have to make an official report. But initially these are the things that I can say: Wala akong galit sa inyo [I have no gripe against you],” he said.
The President said reporters are free to criticize him if he fails to do his sworn duty for his country.
“Do not hesitate to attack me, criticize me if I do wrong in my job. It is your duty to your country. As I have my duty to the people to serve you,” he said.
But he also reminded reporters that it is also their duty to provide “true and accurate” reports.
Duterte made international headlines over his “strong comments” that he later said were wrongly interpreted by media as being directed at Obama. Nevertheless, he told other Asean leaders about the United States’ atrocities against Filipinos, when American soldiers tortured and killed natives who rebelled against US colonization.
But Duterte denied insulting Obama, saying that he was misinterpreted by the media, although his statement was broadcast live on TV, his expletives not even bleeped.
Implying media was to blame for the diplomatic fallout, the President told reporters, “If it’s just a mere shortfall of talent, hayaan mo na (let it go). I would like to presume that you did it without malice kasi trabaho yan (because it’s your job).”
The President then mentioned the crucial role of media.
“Every time you press that button in your camera, you record the history of this country, kaya importante kayo [that’s why you are important],” he said. “I salute you. It is embodied in the Constitution, the freedom of the people to be informed, and the media is there to find out the true and accurate. You portray history.”