MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Former broadcast journalist and now senatorial candidate Jiggy Manicad said that while President Rodrigo Duterte's public threats against some media outlets are "verbal attacks," they are just part of the Chief Executive's "style."
Manicad said this while trying to clarify his recent controversial remarks about press freedom in a The Leader I Want interview with Rappler, one of the subjects of Duterte's repeated attacks.
"It's an obvious verbal attack because – but tingnan din natin kasi 'yung istilo ng presidente after 3 years, 'di ba parang nakilala na natin siya na ito 'yung stilo niya eh.... Ito yung personality niya eh," he said on Tuesday, February 5.
(It's an obvious verbal attack because – but let's also take a look because the style of the President after 3 years, isn't it that we've already known him to have that style.... That's his personality.)
Manicad was then asked if he found this Duterte's "style" acceptable.
"Iba-iba eh, kasi kahit si Trump, iba rin 'yung banat niya.... Kanya-kanyang personality sila eh, kanya-kanyang strategy (They're all different, even Trump, he has a different approach. They have their own personalities, their own strategies)," said Manicad.
He then brought up how Trump banned CNN reporter Jim Acosta from the White House. Rappler asked him if he found that acceptable because it was part of Trump's "style."
Manicad's response, in a mix of English and Filipino was: "It depends.... I can't really answer that far because what I'm saying is if you handle the truth properly, you'll be free of any kind of attack."
However, Manicad slammed former Presidential Security Group (PSG) commander Lope Dagoy for saying back in February 2018 that this reporter should have been thankful PSG personnel did not hurt her after Duterte banned Rappler from the Palace.
"Hindi ako pabor...doon sa ginawa ng PSG sa 'yo. Gusto ko nga awayin si Colonel Dagoy during that time eh (I'm not in favor...of what the PSG did to you. I even wanted to argue with Colonel Dagoy during that time)," said Manicad.
Duterte a 'challenge' for media
Asked if he thought Duterte is good or bad for press freedom in the Philippines, Manicad responded by describing the President as a "challenge" to journalists to stick to media ethics in their reports.
"Good or bad for press freedom is – maybe let's put it in a way that he is challenging. He is like a challenge because we have to stay within our ethics of reporting. If I, for example, will report on something, I'll make sure I have all the details so no one can say anything against me," said Manicad, a veteran television reporter.
Yet Manicad could not definitively say if the articles or reports that got Duterte angry at media outlets were faulty or biased in the first place.
"I can't answer that because I'm just talking on a personal level, based on my experience as a journalist," he said.
'Taken out of context'
Manicad also took the opportunity to air his grievances against PhilStar and One News' The Chiefs for supposedly leaving out some of his remarks during his interview on the show.
The interview on The Chiefs earned him a scathing editorial from the Philippine Daily Inquirer and criticism from fellow media practitioners.
He took issue with how PhilStar writer Ryan Macasero, who wrote about his controversial answers on press freedom on the show, was not in the studio where the interview took place. He said Macasero took him "out of context."
"Kasi talagang unang paragraph may political leanings na agad 'yung sinabi ko. Hindi ganoon eh (The first paragraph made it sound right away like I had political leanings. It wasn't like that)," said Manicad.
Macasero responded to Manicad's claim, saying he did not need to be inside the studio where the interview took place to understand the context of the senatorial bet's remarks.
"A broadcast journalist should certainly understand how technology enables live interviews to be watched from anywhere, and one doesn't need to be in the same studio to understand the context of a conversation. The entire interview is online and people can see for themselves if the quotes were really taken out of context or not," Macasero told Rappler.
Meanwhile, The Chiefs executive producer Jove Francisco took exception to the claim of Manicad that parts of the interview were edited out, leading to people misunderstanding his remarks on press freedom.
"The Chiefs is taped as live. We air episodes as is. No parts were edited out from the Jiggy Manicad episode," Francisco told Rappler in a message.
Media workers' welfare
During the interview, when asked how he would defend press freedom if he elected senator, Manicad said there were other issues and concerns plaguing the media industry that also deserve attention.
"Ang ano diyan is, in fact, hindi lang issue lang ng press freeom, freedom from hunger ng mga workers ng media, walang OT, papatawag ka tanggal ka na sa trabaho. Alam mo 'yan, sa reality na dapat tinitingnan din natin – media killings, Maguindanao massacre," he said.
(In fact, it's not just an issue of press freedom, it's freedom from hunger for media workers, no overtime pay, you get called in then informed you're fired. You know, these are realities we need to look into – media killings, Maguindanao massacre.)
Manicad also stressed the importance of protecting and cultivating "alternative press" and campus journalism.
"If that backbone is weakened because we didn't focus on it because of other issues, it will also hurt freedom of expression or freedom of the press," he said. – Rappler.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.