Wenceslao: Duterte and the media

THIS happened in the early ‘90s when I was still with radio station dyLA. I led our news team, which included an intern from St. Theresa’s College, to the old Mactan International Airport for a coverage of the visit of then president Corazon Aquino. When the president’s entourage came, one of those that went out first was a Cabinet member who, when he passed by where the reporters were standing, saw the STC intern, a mestiza, and kissed her on the cheeks. Incidentally, the kissing official has recently been appointed by President-elect Rodrigo Duterte to his Cabinet.

I remembered that incident when I read the report on the complaint of GMA reporter Raffy Tima about Duterte catcalling his wife, GMA reporter and anchor Mariz Umali, during a press conference last Tuesday. An inquirer.net report on that incident said that when it was Umali’s turn to ask a question Duterte commented, “Nagpapansin ka talaga sa akin,” then followed that up with a wolf whistle.

“I expected that from a Mayor Duterte. I know his reputation well enough not to be shocked by it, but that does not make it right. For someone who espouses leadership by example, catcalling anyone in a press conference with all cameras trained on him defies logic. Then again, that’s Mayor Duterte,” Tima said in a Facebook post. He also criticized some of the people who were there for laughing and basically urging the mayor “to dish some more.”

I pity Tima and Umali. But then again we deserve the officials we elect into public office.

***

President-elect Rodrigo Duterte will assume his post on June 30 yet but he has already received flak for his statements, notably those on the Catholic Church and bishops and, recently, on media killings. Didn’t I quote in a previous column a Cebuano saying we attribute to the Chinese-Filipino? “Daghan sulti, daghan sayop. Way sulti, way sayop.” In the past weeks, Duterte has been commenting on various issues on the sidelines like he is a radio commentator.

Duterte’s defenders, like his spokesperson Salvador Panelo and PDP-Laban president Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III, both lawyers, have claimed that Duterte was misinterpreted and that the incoming president actually does not want to encourage the killing of media people. One of the quotes by Duterte in that press conference is this: “It’s not because you’re a journalist you’re exempted from assassination if you’re a son of a b
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