- After his standoff with the media, Duterte invited different journalists in the Malacañang Golf Club House on the same day of his first State of the Nation Address
- The possibility of meeting the press at least once a month, opinions on the West Philippine Sea dispute, and personal adjustments were included in the conversation
- Right before the dinner, the president met with leaders of the militant groups who camped outside the Batasang Pambansa
It seems as if the winds have changed since the tension between the 16 president of the Philippines and the independent media occurred. Following the not-so-pleasant exchange between both sides, Duterte gave a statement that he won’t be giving any press conferences during his six-year term.
But on the 25 of July, several media personalities were invited by the president for a private dinner in the Presidential Security Group Compound, specifically the Malacañang Golf Club House.
After giving out his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) in Batasang Pambansa, for the first time in a long while, instead of barricades forcing out different militant groups, their leaders were personally invited for a cocktail or two by the head of the state himself. This was followed by his meeting with the independent media.
Each major news channels were properly represented with Cedric Castillo and Ian Cruz of GMA-7, Doris Bigornia of ABS-CBN, Ina Andolong of CNN Philippines, Mia Reyes of TV5, and Pia Ranada of Rappler completed the list. Together with his partner, Honeylet Avanceña and Secretary Christopher ‘Bong’ Go, Duterte’s conversation with the journalists was easy going given his usual charm and humor which was also observed earlier in Batasang Pambansa. In exchange for the first family’s warm hospitality, Secretary Bong requested that no video camera will be present in the meeting. However, parts of the conversation can be documented in photos and few videos to be used for publication.
“Naduling ako, nagdouble vision ako (I got cross-eyed. I experienced double-vision),” was his witty response when the media asked what it was like during his first State of the Nation Address. His problem reading the teleprompter explained the numerous instances when he was not reading his script.
Duterte also candidly admitted his regret in participating in the national race. He accounted it to the adjustments needed in his personal life since he became the most powerful man in the government.
One of the biggest differences from being a city mayor to president of the state would have to be the lack of direct contact with his constituents. Digong, what his supporters and confidante usually call him, wasn’t thrilled that his usual conversations were not so casual anymore since every meeting would have to be coordinated first, mostly for his security.
Like any family catering to their guests, aside from the anecdotes shared, Avanceña and Duterte gave a quick tour of their Bahay Pagbabago, formerly known as Bahay Pangarap. In the midst of the meeting, his youngest daughter, Kitty, broke the ice by giving a call to his father asking him the contents of his speech earlier for her school assignment.
In addition to talks about the dispute in the West Philippine Sea and his opinion on carbon emission, it seems like finally, an understanding was made between the media and him when he mentioned a possibility of meeting the press at least once a month.
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The stand-off between President Duterte and the media started when he was asked what will be his future actions against the killings of different journalists. Duterte answered that only the corrupt ones were being killed. Due to his statement, the organization, ‘Reporters Without Borders’ called the journalists to boycott him. Last June 2, he announced that he will no longer grant press briefings.
READ ALSO: READ: Full text of President Rodrigo Duterte’s first SONA speech