Duterte: Sorry, no interviews ‘until end of my term’

Bea Cupin

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Duterte: Sorry, no interviews ‘until end of my term’

Alecs Ongcal

'It's better not to have interviews. There will be no criticism, no wrong statements, no nothing,' says the Philippines' incoming president

DAVAO, Philippines – He’s known for being fickle even when making “final” announcements, but it seems President-elect Rodrigo Duterte is serious when he said he would stop giving press conferences and would “boycott” the media.

Wala. Sorry, ha? Talagang ano ako, boycott talaga,” Duterte said in a video posted by TV5 reporter France Noguera early Monday morning, June 6. (No. I’m sorry. I’m really going to boycott.)

When asked until when the boycott would stand, Duterte said: “Until the end of my term.”

Earlier, Duterte’s executive assistant Christopher Go had told media that there would be no more press briefings with the incoming president so mistakes would be minimized (“para walang mali”).

Duterte echoed that sentiment in the TV5 reporter’s interview.

“’Pag interview, maraming mali, marami namang criticism, so better [if there’s] no interview, no criticism, no wrong statement, no nothing,” he said, when asked why he made a decision to stop engagements with the press.

(When there’s an interview, there are a lot of mistakes, a lot of criticism, so it’s better not to have interviews. There will be no criticism, no wrong statements, no nothing.)

Go earlier said that announcements and releases would be made through state-owned PTV.

Duterte, who has been mayor of Davao City for nearly 3 decades, is known for his good rapport with Davao-based journalists. But in recent press conferences with media both from the Philippines and abroad, Duterte made pronouncements that caused waves of controversy.

He was criticized by local and international media groups after he was asked about media killings in the Philippines, one of the most dangerous countries for journalists.

“Most of those killed, to be frank, have done something. You won’t be killed if you don’t do anything wrong…. That can’t be just freedom of speech. The Constitution can no longer help you if you disrespect a person,” the mayor said.

Duterte later on clarified his statement, classifying media into “3 categories”: the honest journalists who sometimes get killed in the line of duty, those with vested interests and the corrupt “vultures.”

In the same press conference – the first held after he was proclaimed president – Duterte was caught on camera catcalling GMA reporter Mariz Umali. Duterte was also criticized for his act but he later defended himself, insisting there was nothing “sexual” behind his whistles.

He later lashed out against media who called for a boycott of his press conferences. It was Paris-based Reporters Without Borders who made the statement.

Duterte, through Go again, announced he would “boycott” media if reporters refused to boycott him.

The long-time Davao City mayor is set to take his oath as president on June 30. –

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.