Duterte's relationship with media to 'normalize' soon – spokesman

MANILA, Philippines – Incoming Communications Secretary Martin Andanar believes President-elect Rodrigo Duterte's spat with Philippine media will sooner than later blow over.

"I believe it’s not going to take long before everything normalizes. It’s like a relationship," Andanar told Rappler CEO Maria Ressa during an interview on Tuesday, June 28.

After a string of late-night press conferences, Duterte declared a "no press conference" policy, even saying in a recent speech that he would not answer questions from the media "until the end of my term."

On Wednesday, a day before Duterte's inauguration, 20 media groups published a pooled editorial on how the tense relationship between the president-elect and the press has affected the two parties' duties to inform the public.

Andanar, who also alternates as Duterte's spokesman, said the issue is one of "cultural" differences.

"If you go to Davao and you look at local media, they have a very healthy relationship with the mayor. And on the other hand, once you look at the national media, which means media in Manila, it’s the opposite," he said.

While national media may be more sensitive about "political correctedness," Andanar said, "in the provinces, mas mahaba ang pasensya ng tao doon (people are more patient)."

The national media may just need more time to understand Duterte, he added.

"Once the national media gets to know the president well, President Duterte will be the darling of the press," he told Ressa.

Duterte accuses the media of "slanting" his statements and for not doing enough to crack down on corrupt journalists. 

Despite this, Andanar said Duterte still understands the need for transparency in government.

For this reason, he gave his Cabinet appointees "all of the leeway to speak to media freely," said Andanar.

Duterte has also said he will support the passage of the Freedom of Information Act. Even without the act, Duterte wants to issue an Executive Order to make transactions and records in the executive department open to the public. – 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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