UP journalism professor dares Duterte spokesman to resign

Rambo Talabong

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UP journalism professor dares Duterte spokesman to resign
Danilo Arao of the UP College of Mass Communication says that for defending Duterte, Harry Roque, former human rights lawyer, has disappointed a growing number of friends who are lawyers and journalists

MANILA, Philippines – Amid mounting attacks against press freedom, University of the Philippines (UP) professor Danilo Arao dared Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, a former human rights lawyer, to resign.

Hinahamon kita, Harry, kung hindi mo na masikmura ang ginagawa mo ngayon bilang tagapagsalita ng isang mapanupil na pangulo, you should lead the charge, and dapat mag-resign ka na,” Arao said before a crowd of journalists and bloggers rallying for press freedom Friday night, January 19.

(I am daring you, Harry, if you can’t stomach what you are doing now as the spokesperson of an oppressive president, you should lead the charge, and you should resign.)

The journalism professor said he and Roque go way back as alumni of the University of the Philippines.

He said Roque, as a self-proclaimed human rights advocate, had repeatedly discussed with him how to fight for human rights and the freedom of the press.

Arao said he should know, more than anyone else, the value of legitimate journalism to a democracy.

Ano na ang nangyari sa ‘yo? Bakit tila nag-iba ang ihip ng hangin at ngayon kahit ang Rappler sinasabihan mo na mag-blogger na lamang?” Arao said.

(What happened to you? Why has the blow of the wind changed and now you are telling even Rappler [journalists] to just become bloggers?]

Roque has unwaveringly defended the Securities and Exchange Commission’s order for Rappler to close down for accepting a foreign investor allegedly in violation of the Constitution.

Rappler continues its operations as it prepares to appeal the SEC decision. It maintains that issuing Philippine Depositary Receipts to Omidyar Network does not constitute ownership nor involvement in operations.

The congressman-turned-presidential mouthpiece even said the media company was lucky that President Rodrigo Duterte had not sent the military to shut them down, and suggested that Rappler’s Malacañang reporter just apply for accreditation as a blogger.

Arao said that if Roque would not resign, he should just drop the act of calling himself an advocate of human rights and press freedom.

Kung ayaw mong magbitaw sa tungkulin, talikuran mo na nang tuluyan ang sinasabi mong pagiging stalwart ng karapatang pantao at karapatan sa pamamahayag. At aminin na natin na ito ay isang oportunistang layunin mo para manalo ka sa susunod na eleksyon,” Arao said.

(If you don’t want to let go of your post, turn your back from your claim that you’re a stalwart of human rights and press freedom. And let’s admit that this is just an opportunist means for you to win in the next election.)

Arao said the list of colleagues, both in the media and the law profession, who are disappointed in Roque for defending Duterte, is growing. – Rappler.com

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Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.