National Press Club

National Press Club Decries Philippine President-Elect’s Dangerous Rhetoric

June 1, 2016 | By Miranda Spivack and John M. Donnelly | jdonnelly@cq.com

The National Press Club condemned recent statements by the president-elect of the Philippines that journalists could be targeted for assassination.

“Just because you’re a journalist, you are not exempted from assassination, if you’re a son of a bitch,” Rodrigo Duterte was reported as saying at a May 31 news conference in Davao, where he is mayor.

Duterte has advocated vigilante justice and capital punishment for certain crimes. His comments appeared to suggest that journalists who are deemed to have committed capital crimes should not be exempt from such retribution.

“We don't presume to tell the Philippines how to punish lawbreakers, but Duterte’s remarks suggest a cavalier attitude toward the killing of journalists, which is a growing problem in the Phillipines,” said Thomas Burr, president of the National Press Club. “His remarks also came close to inciting violence. He should be sending the opposite message: violence against the press should not be tolerated.”

Duterte has also said journalists’ right to expression does not include a right to “disrespect.”
“Such comments sound eerily like what we have heard from autocrats in other countries who have used terms like ‘disrespect’ to cover a lot of legitimate reporting and punish those who do it,” Burr said.

The National Press Club is the world’s leading professional organization for journalists. Through its Press Freedom Committee, the Club works to promote freedom of expression and transparency at home and abroad. The Club's Journalism Institute, a non-profit affiliate, equips news professionals with the skills to innovate, leverages emerging trends, recognizes innovators and mentors the next generation.

Contact: John M. Donnelly, NPC Press Freedom Committee chairman, 202 650 6738; jdonnelly@cq.com