Media should be more ‘discerning’ about Duterte’s statements – Panelo

Pia Ranada
Media should be more ‘discerning’ about Duterte’s statements – Panelo
Duterte's statements on media killings were misinterpreted, says his spokesman Salvador Panelo

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo told media to be more “discerning” about Rodrigo Duterte’s statements following the presidential-elect’s heavily criticized comments on media killings.

“If you are discerning enough, kung titingnan niyo ang kanyang body language, siguro dahil sa init ng usapan and the one asking the question, nawawalan ng context ‘yung kanyang sinasabi,” said Panelo during an ambush interview on Wednesday, June 1. 

(If you are discerning enough, if you look at his body language, perhaps because of the tension in the exchange and the one asking the question, his statements lose context.)

Panelo insists that Duterte’s statements, said during a press conference the previous night, were not tantamount to an endorsement of the killing of corrupt journalists.

Watch a video of Duterte’s statement below:

He said the Davao City mayor was only positing a possible reason for why journalists in the Philippines are killed. 

“What he was saying was, when a journalist is killed, it doesn’t mean he’s being killed as a journalist. That person is being killed because he did something wrong against his fellow man…If you committed a grievous wrong against another person, that person will have a blood debt and you have to pay for it. That’s against the law but that is the reason, the rationale for the killing,” said Panelo.

Far from advocating media killings, Duterte, said Panelo, “is very protective of the rights of journalists.”

Panelo found it surprising that, despite the length of Duterte’s explanation, he was still “misinterpreted.”

Panelo said he has not spoken to Duterte about the media attention on his statements.

But he gave assurances that if Duterte feels the need to clarify himself to the public, he would do so. 

“He doesn’t need to be pointed out if he has committed a mistake. He discerns himself and when he realizes his words have been taken out of context or if, for instance he was misquoted, he clarifies it,” Panelo said.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) has called Duterte’s statement on media killings “appalling.”

The NUJP previously criticized him for appointing Panelo his spokesman, given his previous stint as lawyer of Ampatuan family members accused of masterminding the deadliest massacre of journalists. –

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at