In defense of the honor of slain journalists

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PRESIDENT-elect Rody Duterte was absolutely correct about two things when he spoke against corrupt journalists on Tuesday at a news conference in Davao City (which was called to announce who his key Cabinet members would be).

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He said some media are corrupt and some journalists took bribes and did corrupt activities.

But he was absolutely wrong when he said in the same breath that these corrupt journalists deserved what they got. He also said those who end up getting killed are the journalists who receive money but “still play.” We assume he meant that a bribed journalist should keep his end of the bargain and not write—even teasing references in columns—about the expose he has been paid to suppress.

He was also very correct when he said, “Just because you’re a journalist you are not exempted from assassination, if you’re a son of a bitch,” when asked by a reporter how he would address the problem of media killings in the Philippines. “Most of those killed, to be frank, have done something. You won’t be killed if you don’t do anything wrong.”

Wrong, sir! Some journalists, many journalists, Mr. Duterte, were killed because they courageously reported the truth.

Ortega family’s anger and sorrow

We object to Mr. Duterte’s blanket condemnation of “most of those killed” as being “corrupt journalists” who deserve to be killed.

And we share the grief and anger of the family of slain Palawan journalist-broadcaster and environmentalism activist Gerry Ortega. His family expressed both anger and sorrow over President-elect Rody Duterte’s remark that most of the murdered journalists were killed because they were involved in corruption.

A statement sent to media and posted on Facebook by Gerry Ortega’s daughter, Michaella, angrily rejected Mr. Duterte’s generalization and defended her father’s honor.

“Our family is incensed by the hasty and crass generalizations made about murdered journalists in the country,” Michaella said.

“Doc Gerry Ortega was killed for his courage and integrity. He was murdered precisely because he was honorable. He fought for social justice. He stood up against mining in Palawan. He exposed corruption in the provincial government, which included the misuse of billions of pesos from the Malampaya funds.”

Duterte’s remark, she said, was “alarming because without due process, it casts absolute judgment on all murdered journalists including those who were killed for telling the truth.”

We join the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) and National Press Club (NPC) in expressing concern that Mr. Duterte’s statement tends to justify the killing of media people. Saying that when journalists do something wrong they deserve to be murdered is an invitation to those who have a gripe over a news or column item to go ahead and kill the “son-of-a-bitch” reporter or columnist.

We agree with NPC President Paul Gutierrez, who said Mr. Duterte’s statement was “too sweeping, generalized and therefore unfair to the victims, in particular like Doc Gerry Ortega, the Ampatuan victims and to the entire profession in general.”

Impunity encouraged

The Center for International Law, Inc. (Centerlaw), an organization actively working to help prosecute the perpetrators of journalist killings, warned that Mr. Duterte’s words encourage impunity.

“Granting that his allegation of media corruption is true, it does not under any circumstance justify the assassination of journalists,” Centerlaw said in a statement.

Mr. Duterte’s statement was unjust to the very many good journalists who have been killed merely because they were doing their job honestly.

The 77 journalists killed since 1992, including the 32 who were assassinated by the Ampatuan clan on Nov. 23, 2009, were all honest and zealous workers for truth and accuracy.

It is unjust to defame them.

We hope—and earnestly pray—that President-elect Duterte decides to be more circumspect—and guard against committing injustice in his future statements.

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16 Comments

  1. Kapitan Kidlat on

    Mr. Mayor President….let your spokesperson do the talking and you have the right not to be interviewed by the jackals ABiaS-CBN and GMA…they don’t like you anyway…as you always do…..”work hard in silence and let your success be the noise. Let those in media do the talking and salivating…making just plain noise….

  2. This is not a rehearsed interview. I watched the discussion and Duterte was pointing a case with newspaperman Para. He knew what happen with this guy. This guy was on the take playing 2 cards that resulted in his assassination. He also said not all newspaper persons are corrupt. The biggest mistake of Duterte was how he constructed his thought. There is no unity jumping from one item his ERGO all are corrupt but in reality , he is only pointing at one corrupt newspaperman.

  3. Kapitan Kidlat on

    When DU30 campaign trails was snubbed , rigged by TV stations, media…nobody raise a heck. Why are you now clamoring for a fair and balance air and written space? You just shown you’re true colors. You are nothing but a paid prostitute writers who spit nothing but blood, internal organs and intestines.

    You take DU30 in front of tv cameras, slit open his stomach and spread his internal organs on the floor for all to see. AND YOU CALL IT HONORABLE JOURNALISM?

  4. Dear Editor
    I am sad that the statement of President is misquoted by media people. He loves media people except late Jun Pala was killed because he never listened to then Mayor Duterte to minimize his arrogance and grossly abused his authority as hard hitting journalist.
    I do believe that the message of Predident Duterte is not to kill journalist but behave as a true journalist. In the country today more or less 50 percent are not journalism graduates that why their action is beyond the ambit of responsible journalism. I know one hard hitting journalist without ample background in journalism. That journalist used to attack left and right the corrupt officials without even calling the attention of alleged corrupt officials. The journalist ended 6 feet below the ground.
    Therefore, I recommend massive training of incompetent journalists to avoid unnessarily lossing their lives.

  5. can someone write here the exact question the reporter asked and the exact answer given by the president elect (in verbatim please). What i am seeing here seems very out of context to the answer that he gave in the interview.

  6. I salute all PRESS people who shun PAYOLA..and to those who don’t I say the beaconing is just around the corner. For those who shied away the temptation of payola and got the beaconing from those whom the wrath of their pens had meddled with, I more than salute them. No job is easy even the tool is a measly dull shaven pencil of the press people, as long as it can scribble the true story will be written for the citizens to know….but sometimes some press written were discern with such candor that truth was only secondary..matter of fact this last election has witnessed some malicious press columns attacking with vengeance some personalities running in office…..the beaconing

  7. There is a favorite term that describe journalist that are under the take!
    These journalist write AC-DC articles!
    An article that is AC which is ATTACK and COLLECT from the whomever
    There is a DC article that DEFEND and collect! Obviously collect from that one who needs defending.

  8. It will be better for Du30 to simply not to talk to media. A lot of them will just twist your statement to sensationalize and create more news so they can keep their jobs. Let your spokeperson do the talking. JUST DO IT. LESS talk MORE action and you will accomplish a lot. Dont waste your time on the media issues. Be very careful. a lot of them are just trying to trap you to commit an offense that will be a cause for your impeachment.

    • Kapitan Kidlat on

      yeah….that ‘s right Atoys…..”work hard in silence and let your success be the noise. While those in media are making plain noise.

  9. Diego Veloso on

    “Media hitting on individuals: No one bats an eye. A politician hitting on media, everyone loses their minds.”

  10. du30 likes to ruffle feathers or to rock the boat.
    his way of making people on their toes and avoid hypocrisy.

  11. Luz Hammersmith on

    The more people are incensed by his remarks, the more enemies he gains for himself and the more he has to kill until no one is left but himself: the last Filipino.

  12. “Nobody can question my mouth,” Duderte said. “Crazy. You are crazy because I was exercising my constitutional rights. Ano kayo?”
    (Another always-right for a President?)

  13. Totoy Reyes on

    Amazing. Which group will President Duterte curse now “Kill them all”? I think he should stop watching those late night Quintin Tarantino movies so he can go to work earlier on the day at 9:00 AM and muse of sunny things in life. What “Change is coming”? Presscon at 10:00 am would be better for him.

  14. We hope—and earnestly pray—that President-elect Duterte decides to be more circumspect—and guard against committing injustice in his future statements.
    ———————————-

    Apparently the good people of the Philippines still haven’t figured out wtf got elected.
    Want to hope for something ? Hope for a do-over of the entire election that was corrupted by massive fraud from the VP race on down. Did the people really elect all those yellow liberal party pork stealing senators again ?

    • Bitter ka lang..Ibig sabihin mga mula presidente pababa ay nag dayaan? o tinalo talaga,,di pala dapat maupo si duterte at daya din pala boto niya..palagay ko marcos loyalist ka,,kaya di mo matanggap,,SHUT UP! work ka na,,di panay marcos arcos,,tanda mo na eh,,pala asa ka pa!