SENATOR Aquilino Pimentel III came to the defense of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte over his controversial statement that corrupt journalists deserve to die.
Pimentel, president of Duterte’s Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan of Duterte (PDP-Laban), said people should not mistake or misinterpret the statement of the incoming President, who just wants to emphasize that the press should be responsible in exercising its freedom.
“What the President[-elect] is saying is we have freedom of the press but we also have to be responsible in exercising it,” said Pimentel, who chairs the Senate committee on Justice and Human Rights, in Filipino.
But he said that while the Constitution ensures freedom of the press, it 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,” Pimentel explained. “So whether its media killing or killing business or innocent persons, all of these killers must be brought to justice.”
Duterte was criticized by media organizations and various sectors for his statement made during a news conference in his hometown of Davao City that he had no problem about journalists being killed if they engaged in corruption.
“Just because you’re a journalist you are not exempted from assassination, if you’re a son of a bitch,” Duterte has said, in response to a question on how he would handle the killing of journalists.
Pimentel said that what Duterte wanted to say was that media cannot use the Constitution to protect themselves from people who employ violent means.
This was not the first time Duterte was criticized for his “insensitive” or “offensive” statements.
The tough-talking Duterte drew flak late last year when he directly cursed Pope Francis before national television just because he was disappointed with the traffic jam as a result of the preparations being made last November for the papal visit in Manila.
He again was criticized widely last April for saying publicly that he should have been the first to violate the beautiful Australian lay missionary who had been gang-raped and killed by inmates in a Davao prison in 1989. JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA