Panelo rejects Inquirer.net apology
MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo rejected Inquirer.net's apology over its social media post that he had recommended executive clemency for rape-slay convict Antonio Sanchez.
"The apology, as worded, is unacceptable," said Panelo in a message to reporters on Friday, September 6.
Panelo had an issue with how Inquirer.net described as a "clarification" his statement slamming their use of the word "recommended" to describe his letter on the executive clemency sought for Sanchez.
"I was not clarifying, rather I was telling the Inquirer Net that it maliciously gave a wrong meaning and adverse imputation of the performance of an act which I never did therefore besmirching my character and reputation in the process," said Panelo.
Just hours earlier, Inquirer.net posted its statement "apologizing" to the spokesman about their social media post.
The statement also said: “Inquirer.net posted Secretary Panelo’s clarification upon receipt of his statement on the matter. The updated reports stated that he merely referred the request of Sanchez’s family to [Bureau of Pardons and Parole chief Reynaldo] Bayang.”
Panelo had also demanded a public apology and rectification from Rappler over its article entitled, "LOOK: Panelo endorsed Sanchez's letter for executive clemency." The Duterte spokesman said he would file a libel suit if Rappler did not do as he wanted.
But Rappler maintains its article is neither libelous nor defamatory, and sees no need to issue an apology.
Rappler had called Panelo's libel threat a "pure diversionary tactic" amid conflict of interest questions about his letter to the BPP, considering that he was a defense lawyer for Sanchez.
On Thursday, September 5, Panelo confirmed that members of the Sanchez family paid a visit to his Malacañang office thrice in February, the same month he wrote to the BPP about Sanchez's executive clemency bid. The BPP eventually rejected Sanchez's bid.
“What can we do?” said Inquirer.net editor-in-chief Abel Ulanday when asked about Panelo’s rejection of their apology.
“If that’s his decision then we will probably just have to wait for his next move and we’ll just refer it to our lawyers. It’s his prerogative if he wants to accept or reject,” he told Rappler on Friday in a phone interview.
Despite the turn of events, he said, “I personally don’t regret issuing that apology.”
Panelo has not contacted Inquirer.net directly about his issues with their public apology. Ulanday said he only heard of it from social media posts by reporters.
Asked to comment on how Panelo took issue with their use of the word “clarification” to describe the spokesman’s statement slamming their social media post, Ulanday said, “Yun naman talaga ang nangyari (That’s what really happened). In fact, we posted the story of him clarifying the difference between recommendation and endorsement as against referral. If that’s how he interprets that, hindi ko na alam ‘yan (I don’t know).”
As far as he knows, the series of events has not affected the morale of Inquirer.net reporters.
Panelo, meanwhile, said he will push through with his plan to sue Inquirer.net for libel.
“It (apology) is not sufficient for us not to pursue our intended libel suit against them,” he said.
He issued a warning to other media organizations to be “accurate” in their use of words.
“I could only hope that this would serve as a warning to all journalists, editors, and publications that although freedom of the press is guaranteed by the Constitution, they should still ensure that the words they use in reporting are accurate pursuant to their duty to deliver news that is only truthful and unbiased,” Panelo said. – Rappler.com