The rude Davao City mayor spewing venom on everybody he dislikes is totally bad but Sal Panelo, in making his demented defense of Rodrigo Duterte, is worse.
Panelo, a lawyer, said media brought the inane Duterte boycott upon themselves.
Panelo’s excuse was that members of the local media stayed quiet when Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF) or Reporters Without Borders sought a media boycott on Duterte after he said in a press briefing that slain journalists deserved their fate because most were corrupt.
RSF is an international association of journalists that includes local press groups.
The warped reasoning of Panelo and his client, the Davao City mayor, saw a foreign group intruding into Filipino affairs with the RSF’s call for action against Duterte.
Duterte’s comments about journalists were made at a news conference he gave in Davao City to announce his future Cabinet members.
Asked on his planned action to combat impunity for crimes of violence against journalists, Duterte’s characteristically oblique reply was: “Just because you’re a journalist you are not exempted from assassination, if you’re a son of a bitch,” adding that journalists are legitimate targets for assassination.
The Philippines has been listed by RSF as one of the world’s 10 deadliest countries for media personnel.
Referring to corrupt journalists, Duterte added: “Most of those killed, to be frank, have done something. You won’t be killed if you don’t do anything wrong.” He also said that people who defame others are not protected by the Constitution from violent repercussions.
RSF in response said that it is outraged by Duterte’s statement and urged Philippine media to boycott his press conferences until he issues a formal, public apology. It also called for legal action against Duterte.
Panelo in defense of Duterte said the Davao City mayor has the option to snub media because they stayed quiet on the RSF call as if expecting the local media to rush around Duterte and act as his protective shield.
Most media outfits ignored RSF’s call not because of a desire to come to Duterte’s aid but because a boycott would be reneging on its duty to deliver factual news to the public.
The silence of the majority of national media entities, Panelo said, was taken by Duterte to mean that they agreed with the boycott.
Of course media men worth their salt agree with the RSF in protesting the sweeping statements of Duterte in saying media men were killed because of corrupt practices but the only disagreement was in the call for a boycott and that this was not because of Duterte.
The Davao City mayor can nurse his bruised ego by remaining within the comfort of his controlled media in his turf but news will be reported with or without him.
The worse fate of a president is to become irrelevant from the start of his term and the best way to do that is to shut out media.
In response to the United Nations (UN) which also issued a recent statement calling Duterte’s pronouncements on media killings as irresponsible and unbecoming of a leader, the sulking Duterte instead issued an unintelligible gobbledygook reply.
“By chance, do they know the rule on fair play and the right to be heard? It seems to me you are more adept at fumigation, sometimes a.k.a foul or idiocy” was the statement of Duterte addressed to the UN Special Rapporteurs who had criticized him, which was distributed by Panelo to media.
The editor of this paper had to confront the reporter who made the article on Duterte’s statement, believing a misprint. “That’s verbatim,” the reporter said on the Duterte quote.
Communicating with the people is key in effective governance, which is something on which Duterte and his aides particularly Panelo, are fumbling miserably.