THE Philippines has a “terrible” record of media violence that needs to be rectified.
This according to UK Ambassador to the Philippines Asif Ahmad, who criticized President-elect Rodrigo Duterte for his uncalled-for remarks on the killings of alleged corrupt journalists.
Duterte had justified the assassination of some journalists, saying they wouldn’t “be killed if [they]didn’t do anything wrong.”
Ahmad said the United Kingdom is “totally committed to the elimination and condemnation” of the killing of journalists.
A report from US-based Committee to Protect Journalists stated that the Philippines, where at least 75 journalists have been killed since 1992, is the second-deadliest country for journalists.
Ahmad said the UK expects a different tone from the new Philippine President as he represents the whole nation.
“There is a huge responsibility for any office holder to show respect for the office that they hold and respect for the people whom they have the privilege to govern,” he said in a chat during the celebration of Queen Elizabeth II’s 90th birthday at his residence on Thursday night.
He added, “As President Duterte, we expect a different tone because everything he says will be on behalf of the nation. This is not an issue where he is speaking personally.”
Ahmad was also displeased with Duterte wolf-whistling at a female TV reporter, as well as his rape joke about an Australian missionary woman who was gang-raped and killed by inmates in a Davao prison in 1989.
“We have very, very clear and unshakable standards of behavior, and we would expect nothing less from any leader of this great country,” he said. “We have a great respect for gender equality and also on people’s sexual orientation. There is no space in our mindset for any form of discrimination or any form of abuse.”
Incoming Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay, Jr., meanwhile, believes that Duterte’s controversial remarks would not harm the Philippines’ relationship with other countries if the media did not misunderstand him.
“There were a lot of misinterpretation and misunderstanding on what he was trying to say,” Yasay said on Friday. “Most of his statements were taken out of context and I am sure that our local media … plays an important role to make sure that these concerns will not blow out of proportion.”
He added, “This alarm or concern by our friends and allies in the international community will not be there if they fully understand [Duterte’s remarks].”
Yasay also noted that Duterte’s statements should be not be taken as policy statements already because he is not yet formally sitting down as President.
“He is just enjoying this time as a mayor to say these things that he has always been free in expressing,” he stressed. “But he promised that when he sits down, he will be different because when he speaks at that point, he is already expressing policies.” MICHAEL JOE T. DELIZO