Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Duterte to PCOO: “Never exaggerate…do not be arrogant.”

“To my fellow workers in government, especially those who form part of the Communications Office, I enjoin you to remain committed to your duty of upholding the truth at all times. Never exaggerate, never misinterpret and never agitate as you communicate our platform of governance. In other words, do not be arrogant.” - Duterte

I completely agree with the President here. But then again, these are just words. They are meaningless if he doesn’t back them up with concrete leg work. It’s difficult to listen to the President utter these words given the controversy that is Mocha Uson. If you are to browse through Uson’s posts on her Facebook page, it’s not that hard to find exaggerations and misinterpretations there. Not only that, a lot of the posts also seem to have been designed to agitate Duterte’s critics.

Uson can be very arrogant as well. Please recall the recent Senate hearing on fake news wherein she clamoured that media outlets should take her side in the stories that they publish about her. That’s reasonable enough. But when asked if she extended the same courtesy to the Duterte critics she often lambasted in her page, she implied that she didn’t have to because she’s a blogger, not a journalist. That is arrogance.

My point here is that Duterte is right in calling for the PCOO to “never exaggerate, never misinterpret, and never agitate” in the performance of their duties. But such a call is useless if a top PCOO official such as Mocha Uson is exempted to adhere to these principles.

“I call on our friends from the media to also remain committed to the truth at all times. Never, never lie because we are not up to it anyway.” - Duterte

There’s so much irony in this statement. Duterte has been caught numerous times lying to the media and to the Filipino people. He’s a liar. This is an established fact. He even used the state media to spread a lie (fake Trillanes bank accounts). Of course, him being a liar doesn’t take away the importance of his call that media practitioners should never lie. But in making the call, he proved himself a hypocrite. He’s a liar telling other people not to lie.

In fact, in this speech, just minutes after he called on the media not to lie, it didn’t take long for him to utter a lie. He mentioned something about Rappler being funded by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). This wasn’t the first time that he made this claim. Rappler has repeatedly denied this allegation.

Here’s my message to those in the media: Listen to the President’s advice. Never lie in the performance of your duties as journalists. But you should also never forget the fact that the advice is coming from a liar. So don’t be afraid to call him a hypocrite. Let’s call a spade a spade.

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