Former Interior and Tourism Secretary Rafael Alunan has urged the Presidential Communications Office to impose punishment on journalists who reported that President Rodrigo Duterte publicly insulted President Barack Obama.
In a Facebook post, Alunan said reporters who claimed that Duterte maligned Obama in his speech before leaving for the ASEAN Summit in Laos last Sept. 5 “should be singled out and sanctioned for malice and placing the country’s diplomatic relations with the U.S. at risk.”
He likened these journalists to “saboteurs working under the influence that ought to be blacklisted.”
Duterte became controversial once again after saying in his pre-departure speech that he does not owe Obama any explanation on human rights issues since the Philippines is no longer a US colony.
“The Philippines is not vassal state. We have long ceased to be a colony of the United States,” he said.
What made the headlines, however, was the expletive he uttered afterwards.
“You must be respectful. Do not throw away questions and statements. P —– mo, murahin kita diyan,” the President said.
Alunan said reporters who went overboard in describing Duterte’s tirade deserve to be punished so they will learn “unforgettable life lessons,” which will hopefully prompt them to change their behavior.
He added that freedom of the press is not tantamount to having the freedom to destroy, likely referring to the Philippines’ scarred image as a result of Duterte’s remarks against Obama.
But while the press must be punished, Alunan said all senior government officials must also undergo a seminar on dealing with the media so they will know how to manage press conferences and interviews.
He then offered this unsolicited advice to senior bureaucrats: “First rule, never get baited. Instead be the master baiter.”