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Philippine President-elect Rodrigo Duterte has been condemned by media groups for saying some of the many journalists killed in the country had deserved to die.
He made the comments at a news briefing in his home city, Davao, on Tuesday, where he also unveiled his new cabinet.
Since 1986, 176 journalists have been killed in the Philippines, one of the most dangerous countries for reporters.
But Mr Duterte said many of them had “done something wrong”.
Just when I thought election 2016 was getting so crazy they’d have to hold the next debate in the psych ward at Bellevue, Rodrigo Duterte comes along with comments that make Norman Bates seem well adjusted.
In the past Duterte’s hard line stance on crime earned him the nickname The Punisher, but his comments paint a portrait of man more interested in silencing dissent.
Here are a few more gems:
- When asked about the high number of attacks on journalists, Mr Duterte said that “you won’t be killed if you don’t do anything wrong”.
- Citing Jun Pala, a journalist, politician and critic of Duterte who was murdered in 2003, he said: “I do not want to diminish his memory but he was a rotten son of a bitch. He deserved it.”
- “That can’t be just freedom of speech. The constitution can no longer help you if you disrespect a person.”
The National Union of Journalists of The Philippines slammed the comments as ‘appalling’ as has the US based Committee to Protect Journalists.
The Philippines are a U.S. ally and as such should share our basic values – freedom of speech and freedom of the press among them. Allowing our allies to vocally and outwardly dismiss those values makes us look like hypocrites in a part of the world where violent, Islamic extremism has long maintained a foothold. We’ve seen the consequences of that hypocrisy in action all over the Middle East – countless lives and massive amounts of money later, are we ready to repeat the same mistakes in Southeast Asia?
This contributor is a Marine veteran that has served in the Middle East. Due to the sensitive nature of his current job, he has requested to remain anonymous.