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Duterte bans media from DU31

NEWS OUTFITS TOLD TO PACK UP, GET PTV4 FEEDS

Threading dangerously close to media censorship, President-elect Rodrigo Duterte ordered the banning of news outfits from covering his victory party named DU31 at Davao City’s Crocodile Park apparently as Duterte’s way to strike back after journalist groups demanded his public apology over his earlier statements condoning media killings.
Manila-based broadcast firms which have set up equipment to cover the Duterte event were told to pack up yesterday morning by the event’s organizer supposedly on orders from “higher ups.”
The media groups, instead, were told to carry the video feed from state-owned Presidential Broadcast Staff Radio-Television Malacañang (PBS-RTVM) and People’s Television Network (PTV).
Newsmen said a certain Kat Dalisay, who said she was with the event’s organizer, referred to “higher authorities” order for a new setup in the media coverage of the thanksgiving party for turning away coverage of the public event.
Asked to identify the “higher authorities” Dalisay was referring to, she only responded that these were “the combined security [and] government agencies.”
Incoming Presidential Management Staff (PMS) Secretary Christopher “Bong” Go last Friday said Duterte will stop holding press briefings and instead statements will be issued out of PTV4 “to prevent any mistakes.”
Duterte’s sudden hostility towards reporters was also cited by a media watchdog which said the incoming President’s attitude may introduce problems in terms of transparency or check-and-balances.
While respecting his “prerogative”, National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) secretary general Dabet Panelo, in a weekly media forum, cited a potential red flag that might deny journalists the chance to look into the incoming administration’s policies and reporting them to the public particularly with transparency at stake.
“We may still be in the traditional honeymoon period for the new president, but his sudden cold relationship with the press is quite bothering,” NUJP’s Panelo said.
“As much as we respect his choices and prerogatives, it should concern (Duterte himself) because it goes against his promise of a transparent government,” she added.
Incoming Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar, who is affiliated with the TV5 news network, said the Duterte administration vows to “give open access” to media despite the policy of ending the Duterte briefings.
Duterte’s TV show up
Andanar said that such access will be made available through a television program similar to Duterte’s Davao-based show “Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa”.
“We’re working on an executive communications strategy that’ll translate President Duterte’s TV show to a national audience which will air his programs and as well as sentiments and issues that concern the people,” Andanar said.
Duterte’s “cold” relationship with the media began last week when he said that journalists are killed because they are “corrupt sons of bitches”.
Duterte’s statements drew flak from local media watchdogs such as the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) and even from the Paris-based Reporters Sans Frontiers (Reporters Without Borders) who called for a local media boycott on Duterte unless he issued a public apology.
Duterte, as expected, adamantly refused to issue any apology but clarified that he was merely referring to some corrupt journalists.
Later on Duterte caused an outrage after catcalling a female journalist during a news briefing.
The decision to stop the Duterte briefings also contradicted incoming Press Secretary lawyer Salvador Panelo’s earlier statment that Duterte, unlike his predecessors, will not avoid talking to the press in accordance to his promise of transparency.
Panelo said that while it is an “open secret” among journalists who engage in rather unethical practices such as extorting money from politicians, it is not a justification for Duterte’s approval of media killings.
The NUJP officer approved of Duterte’s statement, though, that journalists who end up in unlikely engagements are ones who are poorly paid.
“Corruption is due to economic considerations given the risks a journalist has to encounter in his or her job. Maybe this is a good time to evaluate or rather talk about media workers’ welfare,” she said.
Panelo’s statement is in-line with Duterte’s explanation that journalists - who remain noble in the profession as “crusaders” - are like soldiers who are pawned in danger.
Duterte, in his press conference, said that media networks and publications are infiltrated by “paid hacks.”
“The vultures, pretending to be journalists… The problem here is, every son of a bitch who claims to be a journalist makes money out of it, extorting money, and he is killed and glorified because he is a journalist,” Duterte said.
“You accept into your field people who do not even write straight sentences. They go to publishers, write anything, the proofreader will correct it, and he goes around asking for money,” he added.
And prior to Duterte’s clarifications that journalists are corrupt, the oldest media organization in the Philippines, the National Press Club (NPC), has already admitted that the journalistic profession may have been plagued with extortionists and fake journalists.
“While we acknowledge that there are also rotten members of the press similar to other professions like in the (Philippine National Police) and most especially among politicians, to simplify media killing as due to corruption in the press is to gloss over the fact that media killings happen due to the still prevalent culture of impunity,” NPC president Paul Gutierrez said.
“This ‘branding’ of the media would only justify more attacks against them,” he added.
The NPC admits to be cleaning its ranks of corrupt practitioners and fake journalists that are colloquially known as “hao shiaos”.
The NUJP and the NPC, despite being two of the most recognized media organizations in the country, clash on whether or not to give Duterte a “honeymoon period.”
The NUJP said a “honeymoon period” is not needed and that journalists should not stop from being critical towards him.
The NPC, however, said media should give the new president a chance to adjust through a honeymoon period.
“Criticism being thrown against Pres. Rody this early by some quarters is unnecessary and undeserved. We urge our colleagues in the profession and the public to give him the so-called ‘100 days honeymoon period’ that have been accorded to all past presidents as a matter of courtesy,” Gutierrez said.
NUJP’s Panelo said that both organizations may not be that “acquainted with each other” but they remain to be steadfast in their press freedom advocacies.
“His concerns are concerns not of the President but are rather among journalists and their editors. If there are ethical concerns, then the write-ups are subject to editorial bodies concerned,” Panelo said.
Meanwhile, Vice President-elect Leni Robredo said she does not fear the tough-talking president.
“Nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing. I am not afraid of anything,” Robredo told reporters in an interview asking if she’s afraid of Duterte.
Robredo, who was the running mate of Duterte’s closest rival in the presidential race Liberal Party’s Mar Roxas, however said that she’s still be supportive of Duterte.
“I don’t want him to misinterpret my reactions. I continue to extend my hand in friendship. That’s what the country needs so we can collaborate. Our differences in opinions won’t affect my offer of support to him,” Robredo said.
Duterte continues to snub recommendations of Robredo, who tightly defeated Duterte’s friend Sen. Bongbong Marcos in the VP race, or even her presence in his administration.

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