The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) on Friday said it would never renounce its duty as members of the media despite President-elect Rodrigo Duterte's "dare" for them to boycott him if they don't like his statements.
“As for your dare to boycott you, we are very sorry but we will not, cannot, indulge you... for while we may have our differences, as we have had with past presidents, it has never occurred to us to abdicate our duty, which is to keep watch on government and help ensure it does right by the governed and to scrutinize and ask the hard questions,” the group said in a letter signed by its National Directorates.
International media press freedom advocate Reporters Without Borders on Wednesday urged the Philippine media to boycott the press conferences of Duterte until he apologizes for saying that most of the slain journalists in the country were corrupt.
The group, however, admitted that corruption exists in media but stressed that "nothing, not corruption, and certainly not truth-telling, can ever justify murder."
"We are sure you agree that journalists, both the good and the bad, are citizens entitled to equal protection of the law,” the group said.
“This, Sir, is why we raise such a ruckus whenever a journalist is murdered. Because, again, we stress, nothing can ever justify murder,” it added.
According to the group, what they want is for a government that would care enough that murder does not go unpunished.
Since democracy was restored in the country in 1986, 174 journalists and mediamen have been killed, according to NUJP's tally.
While some of Duterte’s closest aide said his statement regarding the slain journalist was taken out of context, NUJP chairperson Ryan Rosauro said the "burden of clarity" is with him.
“Kung re-reviewhin mo kasi, the burden of clarity is with him. Kung ano ‘yung intention niya, ‘yun dapat ‘yung klarong lumalabas sa kaniyang bibig,” Rosauro said in an interview on “News to Go”.
“Hindi naman tayo humihingi ng security guard. This is not just about having security people on your side. This is about the general atmosphere of impunity that has taken root in our country. Kapag usapang media killings, dito dapat dalhin ang usapan,” he added.
Meanwhile, the group hopes that Duterte would stick to his words on ending contractualization, which the group believes is one of the causes why some journalists resort to corruption.
“We do hope you will be willing to help us and other media organizations address the often onerous working conditions faced by so many of our colleagues in the frontlines, the long hours for meager pay and, at times, deliberate orders to violate ethics at the risk of losing their jobs,” NUJP said. —Kiersnerr Gerwin Tacadena/KBK, GMA News