Media groups from all over the world have condemned comments made by Philippine president-elect Rodrigo Duterte saying the killing of corrupt journalists is justified.
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) labeled the comments “appalling,” and although it admitted that the media industry is plagued with corruption problems, this doesn’t give explanation for the killing of reporters.
The union also said that the mayor of Davao City declared an “open season to silence the media,” whether individual journalists or the institution for committing corruption, according to The Guardian.
The deputy director of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility Luis Teodoro, who’s based in Manila, said that potential killers have been given an indication that killing is okay in certain circumstances thanks to Duterte’s comments.
The Committee to Protect Journalists in New York said Duterte’s remarks were “irresponsible” and it provides security officials the license to kill journalists for acts they see as “defamation.”
Shawn Crispin, the committee’s representative from Southeast Asia, said that Duterte’s statements are one of the most outrageous he’s heard from a Philippine president.
However, PDP-Laban president Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III defended Duterte’s comments, urging people not to misinterpret them.
“What the president only said is that we have freedom of the press, but we also have to be responsible in exercising it,” he said on Wednesday, according to Rappler.
During a conference announcing who would be joining his new Cabinet on Tuesday, Duterte remarked that journalists who take bribes and get themselves involved in corrupt activities deserve to be killed.
“Just because you’re a journalist you are not exempted from assassination, if you’re a son of a b—-,” he said. “Most of those killed, to be frank, have done something. You won’t be killed if you don’t do anything wrong.”
Duterte won last month’s national elections in a landslide victory and is set to take over President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino, whose six-year term ends on June 30.