Philippines' Duterte says journalists not exempt from "assassination"

Philippine president-elect Rodrigo Duterte came under fire on Wednesday for saying that corrupt journalists could face "assassination."

"Just because you're a journalist you are not exempted from assassination, if you're a son of a bitch," Duterte told a press conference in the southern city of Davao on Tuesday evening.

"There's still corruption on your side," he told reporters. "If you are a good journalist, no one will touch you especially if [what you report] is true."

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) said it was "appalling" that Duterte would imply that killing journalists was justified if they were thought to be unethical.

"Duterte's crass pronouncement not only sullies the names and memories of our colleagues who have been murdered since 1986, he has also, in effect, declared open season to silence the media," it said in a statement.

The Philippines has been ranked as one of the world's most dangerous places for journalists by press freedom groups, including the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), which condemned Duterte's comments.

"President-elect Rodrigo Duterte's shocking remarks apparently excusing extrajudicial killings threaten to make the Philippines into a killing field for journalists," Shawn Crispin, CPJ's senior Southeast Asia representative, said in a statement.

"We strongly urge him to retract his comments and to signal that he intends to protect, not target, the press."

On Friday, crime reporter Alex Balcoba was shot dead in Manila, the second journalist killed in the Philippines in 2016, according to the NUJP.

In 2009, 32 media workers were among more than 50 people killed in a local politician's convoy heading to a rally. The alleged masterminds are currently on trial.

Last update: Wed, 01/06/2016 - 18:21
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