MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has asked his ardent supporters to stop threatening journalists.
"I appreciate very much your support and maybe your – how would I say it – enthusiasm to back me up. You are correct, I am doing nothing wrong, but of course we should also not threaten people kasi hindi na sila makapagsulat ng totoo (because they aren't able to write the truth)," said Duterte on Thursday, September 22.
Duterte was speaking at the Philippine National Police Region 10 headquarters in Cagayan de Oro.
His appeal comes after the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) called on the Palace to investigate social media attacks on two female journalists.
The President said he heard of this report from local correspondents of international media groups.
"I was told of several threats," he said.
Earlier on Thursday, Communications Secretary Martin Andanar also called on Duterte supporters not to bash journalists.
"Siguro ang pakiusap po natin ay huwag ho tayong magkasakitan ng mga pino-post natin sa social media, at lalung-lalo na ho ay iwasan ho natin na i-threaten iyong ating mga kasamahan sa media," said Andanar in a Palace press briefing.
(We are appealing for people not to post hurtful things on social media and especially to avoid threatening members of the media.)
Some Duterte supporters, or netizens who appear to be Duterte supporters, are known to be brazen in their defense of Duterte.
Journalists who write articles critical of the President have reported being harassed online, to the point of receiving death or rape threats.