Outrage after Duterte justifies journalists' murders

2016-06-01 18:34
(King Rodriguez, AP)

(King Rodriguez, AP)

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Manila - Media groups on Wednesday expressed outrage at Philippine president-elect Rodrigo Duterte's endorsement of killing corrupt journalists, warning his comments could incite more murders in a nation already one of the world's most dangerous for reporters.

Duterte, who won last month's elections in a landslide after pledging to kill tens of thousands of criminals, told reporters there was justification for killing journalists who took bribes or engaged in other corrupt activities.

"Just because you're a journalist you are not exempted from assassination if you're a son of a bitch," Duterte said when asked how he would address the problem of media killings in the Philippines after a reporter was shot dead in Manila last week.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines described the comments as "appalling". It conceded there were corruption problems in the industry but said these did not justify murdering reporters.

"He has also, in effect, declared open season to silence the media, both individual journalists and the institution, on the mere perception of corruption," the NUJP said in a statement.

Urged reporters

The Philippines is one of the most dangerous nations in the world for journalists, with 176 murdered since a chaotic and corruption-plagued democracy replaced the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos three decades ago.

Speaking at a media conference in his southern hometown of Davao to introduce his cabinet on Tuesday night, Duterte suggested the majority of those victims were partly to blame.

"Most of those killed, to be frank, have done something. You won't be killed if you don't do anything wrong," said Duterte, who will be sworn into office on June 30.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists also condemned Duterte's remarks.

"What he has done with these irresponsible comments is give security officials the right to kill for acts that they consider defamation," CPJ's Southeast Asian representative, said Shawn Crispin from Bangkok.

And Reporters Without Borders called for journalists in the Philippines to boycott Duterte's media conferences until he apologised.

Duterte's spokesperson Salvador Panelo insisted Duterte's comments had been taken out of context and urged reporters to look at the president-elect's body language to understand his comments.

"He is against all illegal killings. He will pursue the criminals to the ends of the Earth in accordance with the law and in accordance with the constitution," Panelo said.



Read more on:    rodrigo duterte  |  philippines

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