The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines slammed President-elect Rodrigo Duterte after the latter made a sweeping statement in a conference on Tuesday noting that journalists are being killed because they are corrupt.
“It is appalling that President-elect Rodrigo Duterte should justify the murder of journalists in the country by playing the corruption card,” the NUJP stated.
The tough-talking mayor said that the Constitutional right of freedom of expression will not save media men.
“Freedom of expression won’t save you. The Constitution cannot help you kapag binaboy mo ang isang tao (if you have corrupted a person),” the presumptive president remarked.
The group of journalists said that the incoming president’s statements, though made in joke, can be understood as a command by people who are against the press.
Regardless of the declarations, NUJP remains firm that Filipino journalists will not be cowed from fulfilling duty to act as the people’s watchdog. The group, however, pointed out that “murder is no joke. Neither is press freedom.”
NUJP contested that even if corruption in the media could be one of the possible causes of journalist killings, it is still a totally different thing to present the act as a justification taking lives.
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) recorded about 146 killed journalists in the country for the past 25 years. In its report published in January, IFJ recognized that Philippines is the second most dangerous country for journalists next to Iraq.
Duterte’s spokesperson, Peter Laviña said that a member of the President-elect’s transition team will create a task force to investigate media killings. Lavina explained that the said moved was provoked because of the death of a crime beat reporter Alex Bacoba who died on Saturday when he got shot outside a watch repair shop in Quiapo.