Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 31) — The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) fired back at President Rodrigo Duterte for slamming major media outfits in his tirades on Thursday.
"Mr. Duterte, your mouth is getting the better of you!" NUJP Secretary General Dabet Panelo said in a statement. "Your incoherent and foulmouthed rant against two of the country's major media outfits — the Philippine Daily Inquirer and ABS-CBN — was not only unwarranted, it was absolutely twisted."
Duterte lashed out at ABS-CBN and Philippine Daily Inquirer in two expletive-laden speeches he made earlier in Malacañang.
"Kay Inquirer, you've never been fair. I know that it's supposed to be antagonistic but fair? Bastos kayo. Pati ABS-CBN bastos, bastos talaga," he said at the mass oath-taking of his new appointees.
[Translation: For Inquirer, you've never been fair. I know that it's supposed to be antagonistic but fair? You're rude. Even ABS-CBN, they're really rude.]
"Noong election, Inquirer pati ABS-CBN, mukhang pera kayo eh (you're just after money)…Why? You published a ₱211 million which were all garbage. If I have that money now and you are all influentials to find it out, if even by half of it, I will resign as President," Duterte said.
"Itong mga oligarchs pati itong mga elite, mga p***** i** ninyo, sabihin ko sa inyo…If your candidate loses, you become virulent rin."
[Translation: These oligarchs and elite, they're sons of b******, I tell you. If your candidate loses, you become virulent too.]
He even took a swipe at the owners of both Philippine Daily Inquirer and ABS-CBN, Ma. Alexandra Prieto-Romualdez and Eugenio Lopez III, respectively.
"Napakabaho naman ninyo kayong mga Prieto, kayong mga Lopez (You smell bad, you Prietos and Lopezes). You’re full of s***," Duterte said.
In return, NUJP sec-gen Panelo called out the President's abuse of power and disregard for democracy and governance.
"Mawalang-galang subali't napakalinaw na kayo po, at hindi sila, ang bastos," he said.
[Translation: With all due respect, it is clear that you are, and not them, who is rude.]
"It is a mindset of the petty tyrant who mistakenly believes public office is an entitlement that allows you to flaunt the laws of the land that both grant you power and ensure the checks that prevent you from abusing that power."
Even before his presidency, Duterte has been known to lash out at the media with strong statements during press briefings, and even challenging reporters in coverages.
Panelo said while he didn't expect an apology from the President anytime soon, he stressed that the local media would not be cowed.
"Sir, your curses and your threats cannot and will not prevent us, the community of independent Filipino journalists, from fulfilling our duty to inform the people as best we can of what is happening to our country, whether you agree with what we report or not," he said.
For his part, Philippine Daily Inquirer Executive Editor Jose Ma. Nolasco said their news organization had always upheld the highest standards and balance in journalism since it was founded in 1985.
"In fact, the Inquirer Opinion runs 'View from the Palace' every week, where Cabinet officials expound on and explain administration policy-and even the personality of the President himself," Nolasco said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella defended Duterte's statement, saying the remarks did not necessarily apply to local journalism as a whole.
"The President's remarks on ABS-CBN Corporation and Philippine Daily Inquirer is a complaint against unfairness and are not attacks against Philippine journalism," Abella said. "The President himself agreed with the adversarial role of media as check and balance against government abuses and venalities."
Abella explained what might have ticked off the President in the coverages of ABS-CBN and Philippine Daily Inquirer.
"However, it is unfortunate that these two media outfits tend to project the President as a caricature of a berserk strongman over a failed state," he said.
The presidential spokesperson then called for better journalistic practices from the media industry, so as to also help in the country's growth.
CNN Philippines' correspondent Anjo Alimario contributed to this report.