Thanks to US President Barrack Obama being such a good sport, the flames lit by the irresponsible journalism of both local and foreign media had been doused.
“As I said when I was asked about this in China, I don’t take these comments personally because it seems that this is a phrase he’s used repeatedly, directed at the Pope and others and so,” Obama said.
“I think it seems to be just a habit, a way of speaking for him,” he added.
Obama added that he doesn’t expect the controversy to affect the relationship of the two countries.
Amazingly, President Rodrigo Duterte, who fell victim to scoop-starved journalists’ perverse translation and interpretation of his words, came out relatively unscathed.
Filipinos are increasingly suspicious of the agenda of the handful of big oligarch-owned conglomerates that dominate their country’s media industry. Long-perceived to be overly-sympathetic to the Aquino-Cojuangco clan and the Liberal Party led by its scion former President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III, the reputation of these big media brands have since fallen into disrepute. They are based in what is now seen to be the Philippines’ “imperial” capital city of Manila by Duterte’s broad base of supporters from the Philippines’ southern regions.
Accustomed to schmoozing with the bigwigs of Manila politics for decades, Philippine corporate media seem ill-equipped to cover the country’s southern parts (Duterte’s home region) fairly and insightfully. This being outside of their element in the Philippines’ south likely contributed majorly to the catastrophic failure in presidential coverage that unfolded over the last several days.
Former Cabinet Secretary Rafael Alunan III, for his part, published on Facebook his brief but scathing take on the destructive conduct of both local and foreign media in the manner with which they reported Duterte’s speech before he departed for Laos last Friday.
The media that went to town saying that Du30 insulted Pres BHO should be singled out and sanctioned for malice and placing the country’s diplomatic relations with the U.S. at risk.
They are saboteurs working under the influence that ought to be blacklisted. Freedom of the press is not freedom to destroy. The latter deserves appropriate action in order to deliver unforgettable life lessons and alter behaviour.
Fortunately for Duterte, his “colourful” character may be scoring points and was even told by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a meeting at the Laos summit sidelines that he was “quite a famous figure also in Japan”. Just the same, it is also important that Duterte also consider the lessons that could be learned from this experience. A brush with what could have ended as a diplomatic disaster between the Philippines and its closest most powerful ally in the region is one close call too many.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.