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Duterte to media: Criticize 'with moderation'

MANILA, Philippines – While claiming he is an "ally" of the media, President Rodrigo Duterte advised journalists to criticize his administration "with moderation" and to be forgiving when writing about the character of government officials. 

"Do it with moderation and do not use words that tend to cast aspersion on the character," said Duterte on Tuesday, January 16, during an event in Pasay City.

He said media must be understanding of government workers "because they have children and friends."

Duterte, however, is a president known for his character-assassinating remarks about his fiercest critics.

His public claims about opposition senator Leila de Lima's "morality" and "sexual escapades" with her driver, who he alleged helped De Lima collect money from drug lords, triggered an investigation that eventually placed the lawmaker behind bars.

Duterte has also publicly released a list containing over 150 names of politicians suspected of having drug links, a list he later on admitted lacked verification.

While he advised media to be careful with their words, he himself has used foul language to criticize various detractors, including former United States president Barack Obama, United Nations rapporteur Agnes Callamard, and the European Parliament.

'Akin 'yan'

In the same interview, Duterte called Rappler a "fake news outlet" and again brought up his accusations against the Prieto family, former owners of the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

But he emphasized that not all media companies are his enemies. He even said those media outlets are "his."

"Hindi naman lahat eh. Lahat ng 'yung hindi ko binanggit, lahat akin 'yan in the sense that they just tell the truth," said Duterte.

(Not all. All those who I didn't mention, all of them are mine in the sense that they just tell the truth.)

"For me, you want my friendship? Have I ever asked anybody of you in my entire life, 'Talk about this, explain this to them.' Have I ever done that in my life?" said the President.

He also cried foul that media are able to criticize him while he, supposedly, cannot. (READ: Duterte to media: 'Never, never lie')

"Look why should you complain if I am critical against media. Are you not critical of me? Kung kayo mag-criticize, okay, kami hindi? (If you can criticize, we cannot?)" said Duterte.

However, the President has gone beyond criticism of media to threats to shut media companies down or stop their operations.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) revocation of Rappler's incorporation papers has been condemned as an attack on press freedom since it comes after Duterte's public threats against the online news outlet.

Duterte has also threatened to block the franchise renewal of ABS-CBN. After constant attacks against the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the Prietos sold their shares to businessman and Duterte friend Ramon Ang. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.

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