Duterte administration

‘Daily Tribune’ publisher is Duterte’s new MECO representative

Pia Ranada
‘Daily Tribune’ publisher is Duterte’s new MECO representative

IN DUTERTE GOVERNMENT. New MECO Resident Representative Wilfredo Fernandez assumes his duties in Taiwan.

Manila Economic and Cultural Office website

President Rodrigo Duterte again gives a government post to an owner of a media outlet that is openly supportive of his administration

Daily Tribune publisher and president Wilfredo Fernandez has been given a government post by President Rodrigo Duterte.

Fernandez replaced Angelito Banayo as Manila Economic and Cultural Affairs (MECO) chairman and resident representative, according to MECO’s website.

A MECO press release dated October 29 described Fernandez as its “newly minted” chairperson as it posted about his meeting with Taiwanese firms last October 21.

Banayo, who resigned in July to help run Manila Mayor Isko Moreno’s presidential campaign, told Rappler that Fernandez was picked by Duterte to take his place in end of August. But Fernandez flew to Taipei, Taiwan, in late September to take up his duties there.

The MECO serves as the country’s de facto embassy in Taiwan.

Fernandez’s appointment has not been announced by Malacañang. The Palace, since September 2020, has stopped its usual practice of informing media of new government appointments. The appointees themselves have been given the discretion whether or not to post about their new positions, with Roque open to confirming the development to reporters if asked.

Fernandez, a public relations practitioner, is still listed on Daily Tribune‘s website as its president and publisher. The newspaper’s editorials have largely been pro-Duterte administration and have echoed government stances on the Liberal Party, Vice President Leni Robredo, and the state of press freedom in the country.

It’s not the first time Duterte has picked a media owner for a government post involving diplomacy. In 2017, he appointed Manila Times chairman emeritus Dante Ang as special envoy for international public relations.

In 2019, Ang wrote a story on Manila Times that tried to link media organizations to an ouster plot against President Duterte. The story was widely condemned as one that peddled inaccuracies and falsehoods and baselessly endangered the lives and reputations of the media practitioners named. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

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