Duterte dares media to stop covering him; criticises UN over Middle East and Africa

Philippines' President-elect Rodrigo Duterte has come under fire for saying some journalists deserve to be killed.
Philippines' President-elect Rodrigo Duterte gives a press conference in Davao City, on June 2, 2016.
Philippines' President-elect Rodrigo Duterte gives a press conference in Davao City, on June 2, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

DAVAO (BLOOMBERG) - Philippine President-elect Rodrigo Duterte dared reporters on Thursday night (June 2) to stop covering him after drawing flak for earlier comments that corrupt journalists were legitimate targets of assassination, even as he vowed to be a changed man by the end of the month when he takes office.

"I'm urging you; make this trip your last in Davao City," Mr Duterte said in English during a two-hour televised briefing that started at 9.10pm.

"I do not care if no one is covering me. Do not threaten me, I said I'm ready to lose the presidency, my honour or my life. "

Mr Duterte called the briefing for 5pm on Thursday after he drew flak for his May 31 comments on corrupt journalists whom he said are not protected by laws safeguarding freedom of expression.

His remarks and his wolf-whistling at a female reporter during the same press conference triggered a flood of criticism on social media and prompted Paris-based Reporters Without Borders to call on journalists to boycott him.

 

The United Nations, which has links to the international organisation promoting journalists' safety, was not spared by Mr Duterte. The incoming Philippine leader, who takes office on June 30, cursed the UN, which he said failed to solve the conflicts in the Middle East and the problems in Africa.

"I'm telling the networks, do not come here. I do not need you," he said, urging the media to just cover him through the state-run television or government websites. He could also order members of the cabinet to stop talking to journalists, he added.

At around 11pm on Thursday, after reiterating the nation's claims to Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea, one of the disputed areas where China is asserting control, announcing a couple of new additions to his team and telling the nation's telecommunications companies to shape up, Mr Duterte promised a "metamorphosis" once he takes his oath as president.

"I'm enjoying my time as a rude person," he said. "But when I become the president, when I take my oath of office, in keeping with the dignity of the office, that would be a different story."