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Palace reporters to Andanar: Stop bad habit of blaming media for Duterte's loose lips

TV5 video grab of reporters covering President Duterte.
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA - Communications Secretary Martin Andanar came under fire anew, this time from the members of the press corps covering the daily activities of the chief executive, for accusing the media of misreporting the statements of President Rodrigo Duterte on martial law.

The media merely “paraphrased or translated” some of the President’s remarks about the issue, and did not give a wrong twist to them, the members of the Malacanang Press Corps (MPC) said.

“We take exception to the statement of Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, accusing the media of ‘misreporting’ President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement about Martial Law,” the MPC said in a statement.

“We are disturbed and appalled by the propensity of the officials of this administration to blame the media whenever the inflammatory statements of the President stir controversy or draw flak,” the group added.

The Palace media said this “trend” should stop “as it would not contribute to the elevation of the level of public discourse.”

The Palace reporters were reacting to Andanar's remarks a day after most media outlets reported on, and posted videos of, the President telling the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry that if warranted, he would declare martial law - not to deal with a threat of invasion or external danger, but to "protect the nation" should the illegal drugs problem reach "really virulent" levels.

Many lawmakers reacted to the reports by noting that the 1987 Constitution provides clear, specific grounds for declaring martial law, and in the view of critics, illegal drugs is not among them.

Andanar scored the "misreporting," saying the President knows the limits of his power under the Constitution.

Before the Malacañang reporters, the National Union of Journalists reminded Andanar that all reports were based on RTVM video and none of the media outlets did any interpretative reporting.

“The media has no obligation to please or satisfy its sources because its loyalty is to the citizens, those who will be affected by the actions of people who are far more powerful than them,” the MPC said.

“We hope that such behavior is not an attempt to discredit or undermine the media, which plays a crucial role in keeping our democracy healthy and checking those in power, and supplant them with information sources that would push for an agenda that is less noble than the truth,” MPC added.

The MPC members also urged Andanar and his officials to read the entire news stories, and not just the headlines, to get a better picture of the media’s coverage of the President.

In his speech in Davao on Sunday, Duterte had said, “You know, I have to protect the Filipino people.  It’s my duty.  I tell you now, if I have to declare Martial Law, I will declare it.  Not about invasion, not about danger, I will declare Martial Law to preserve my nation, period.”

Following reports about this, Andanar criticized the media, saying “Such headlines sow panic and confusion to many.”

“We consider this kind of reportage as the height of journalistic irresponsibility,” he added.