Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte will not apologize for his statement justifying the killing of corrupt members of the media, his spokesman said on Thursday.
“A call for him to apologize is misplaced. You only apologize if you committed something wrong,” incoming presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a television interview.
On Tuesday, Duterte said that most journalists are killed because they are corrupt.
But Panelo said the mayor’s comments were “misunderstood.”
He explained that Duterte was only saying that regardless of profession, anyone who offends someone will be killed.
“’[The] statement regarding the journalists’ killings [is not that unjustified because]apparently [what he said was not fully understood by those who were there]. [They thought that what he said] will not only justify media killings but will encourage [them],” the spokesman said.
“On the contrary, what he is saying, in effect, was you don’t have to be a journalist or engaged in some other profession to be killed. It will only happen to you if you offended another person and that person wanted to exact revenge,” he added.
“Kaya namamatay kasi nabayaran na they take sides or nasobrahan nila ang atake [They (journalists) are killed because they are paid to take sides or they attack too much]… It’s not because you’re a journalist you’re exempted from assassination if you’re a son of a bitch,” Duterte said.
“The Constitution can no longer help you pag binaboy mo isang tao [if you disrespect a person]. Your freedom of expression can’t help you if you’ve done something wrong with the guy,” he added.
Incoming Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez also said Duterte need not apologize for his statement.
“Sorry? Wala naman ano. Parang statement lang [It was nothing. It was just a statement],” Alvarez told reporters.
“It’s nothing personal…more of an observation. He was merely commenting,” he said.
Duterte, mayor of Davao City, uttered the controversial statements when asked how he will deal with media killings.
He cited the case of Jun Pala, a Davao journalist who was killed in 2003.
“I don’t want to demean his memory but he was a rotten son of a bitch. Of course I know who killed him. Kasi binastos niya ‘yung tao eh. Kung journalist ka na tama, wala namang gagalaw sa iyo [He disrespected that person. If you are an upright journalist, nobody will kill you],” the mayor said.
But Alvarez said he did not hear Duterte say those words.
“[There was] no declaration [like that]. Napanood ko yung clip. Mukhang wala siyang sinabing ganun [I saw the clip. I don’t think he said that]. Ang narinig kong sinabi niya, maaaring ‘yun ‘yung rason pero hindi lang ‘yun ang rason [What I heard him say is that corruption may be one of the reasons why journalists are killed, but it’s not the only reason],” he added.
Senator Aquilino Pimentel 3rd also came to the defense of Duterte.
The president of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan, the mayor’s party, said people should not mistake or misinterpret Duterte’s statement because he only wanted to point out that the press should be responsible in exercising its freedom.
“Ang sinabi lang naman ng President [What the president said is] we have freedom of the press but we also have to be responsible in exercising it,” added Pimentel, chairman of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights.
He noted that while the Constitution ensures freedom of the press, it, however, cannot protect the press from violence.
“But what has not been stated is that these people who violate the law by employing violence must be brought to justice. So whether it’s media killing or killing business or innocent persons, all of these killers must be brought to justice,” the senator said.
WITH LLANESCA T. PANTI AND JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA