Duterte never harassed critics, says spokesperson
MANILA -- Despite being harassed by his critics and detractors, President Rodrigo Duterte has never done the same to them, Malacañang said on Sunday.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made this reaction as he dismissed a Latvia-based study which indicated that one of the four emerging models of disinformation was “state-sponsored.”
“Si Presidente hindi nagkakaroon ng ganung intensiyon. Si Presidente, isa lamang ang panuntunan niya, bigyan ng proteksiyon at pagsilbihan ang taong-bayan (The President never had that intention. The President only has one criterion, which is to protect and serve the Filipino people),” Panelo said in an interview over dzIQ.
“Yun ang kaniyang batayan sa lahat ng kaniyang galaw bilang Presidente ng bansa. Siya ang
hina-harass ng mga kritiko, hindi siya huma-harass, pinapatupad niya lang kung ano ang batas (That is the basis for every move the President makes. He is being harassed by his critics and he does not harass them. He is only implementing the law),” he added.
The study, published by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), defined the state-sponsored model as one that uses “formal intimidation” and “digital bullying” techniques that leads to “silencing, self-censorship, and chilling effects among dissenters and the public at large.”
It also noted that a “statesponsored propaganda model assumes intentionality from the President himself to intimidate and harass his critics” by tapping a “keyboard army” of his “diehard supporters.”
Aside from the state-sponsored model, the other models of disinformation in the NATO study include the in-house staff model, the advertising and public relations model, and the clickbait model.
The study is authored by Jonathan Corpus Ong, Associate Professor of Global Digital Media in the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and Jason Cabañes, Associate Professor of Communication in De La Salle University-Manila.
Panelo denied that the government engaged in any form of spreading disinformation or fake news.
“Ang fake news ay iisama lamang, fake. Ang gobyerno, kailanman, ay hindi pumapasok sa fake news (Fake news are all the same, they’re fake. Our government never engaged in spreading fake news),” Panelo said.
“Doon nga nagagalit si Presidente e -- yung binabago yung mga facts and figures at hindi nagiging matapat. Di ba yun ang laging pinapakiusap ng Presidente sa lahat, ang gusto niya lang iyong truth and fairness (That’s what makes the President angry -- changing facts and figures and not being honest. That’s the only request of the President, he wants truth and fairness),” he added.
The Palace official, meanwhile, maintained that the Duterte administration respects press freedom in the Philippines.
“Malaya ang pamamahayag dito sa ating bansa (Journalists are free to report what they want in our country),” Panelo said.
“Walang naide-demanda dahil sila ay nagsalita laban as gobyerno. Pakinggan mo lang yung mga salita ng komentarista, iba’t-ibang estasyon sa radyo, basahin mo mga kolumnista. Makikita mo na dito sa ating bansa ang pinakamalaya (There are no journalists who are sent to jail for speaking against the government. Just listen to the commentators, different radio stations, read the columns. You’ll see that press freedom in our country is most free),” he added.
Panelo’s statement came after the President, on Tuesday, announced that he is not bent on granting the renewal of the 25-year congressional franchise to local broadcast network ABS-CBN.
Panelo, however, explained that the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise would still be up to Congress.
Last month, Panelo also shrugged off Rappler CEO Maria Ressa’s remark in a TV program characterizing the press landscape in the Philippines under the Duterte administration as “worse than any war zone” that she has been in.
For Panelo, media workers in the country remained “safe” and remained free to cover events in the country.
Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar also disputed Ressa’s claims that her arrests and charges are meant to “pound her into silence” for reporting about alleged extrajudicial killings tied to the drug war.
Andanar said cases filed against Ressa and Rappler were for the violation of the anti-dummy law, tax evasion charges, and a cyber libel case filed by a private individual that has “nothing to do with the administration.”
He said Ressa’s case is not an issue involving press freedom but an issue in violation of the Philippine laws acted upon by respective government agencies.