TAGUM CITY—Presidential candidate and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte plans to pull a no-show in his first presidential debate on February 21 in Cagayan de Oro City if the issue of “discrimination” raised earlier by the local media would be left unsolved.
“I will not go there,” Duterte said in a statement on Monday, February 15, when he was informed that journalists from Cagayan de Oro were not given a fair share in covering the first round of presidential debate coverage.
“(I am running for) president because I want people from the provinces to be given equal treatment,” Duterte said, who is a staunch supporter of Freedom of Information bill.
Davao’s tough-talking mayor also urged the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to initiate a dialogue to several media groups in cities where debates will be held to arrive in what he calls a “win-win solution.”
“It would be unfortunate….if the local media will feel they are being treated as second class citizens in the press community,” Duterte said.
On the other hand, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) has called both parties to settle the problem through a dialogue.
“We hope the organizers of the Cagayan de Oro presidential debate and the local media community would be open to more dialogues to iron out the process of selection and accreditation of journalists who will cover the debate,” Ryan Rosauro, chairperson of NUJP, said in a statement.
“We do hope it is not too late for the organizers of the Cagayan de Oro presidential debate to address these issues even as we urge the organizers of the subsequent debates to be held in the Visayas and Luzon to ensure early on that such problems are avoided,” the group added.
Space limited? Provide a larger venue, says NUJP
Although the NUJP has acknowledged the “space limitation” of the debate’s venue, it however, requested both organizers and the host to “provide a large enough venue where the largest number possible of journalists, both community and Manila-based, may watch and cover the debate through monitors.”
NUJP stressed that as the May 2016 presidential elections draw near, “every opportunity available to journalists to be able to inform the broadest segment of the public must be optimized.” The group further urged the organizers of subsequent debates in Luzon and Visayas “to ensure early on that such problems are avoided.”
In a separate statement, the Philippines Press Institute (PPI) has appealed to the organizers “to accommodate considerable slots for the local media who want to be part of the audience in the debate. Because this is a historical and significant event, we deem important the participation of media.”
For his part, Balay Mindanaw Chairman Emeritus Charlito “Kaloy” Manlupig has also expressed support to the Cagayan de Oro Press Club, by declining to sit in the slated February 21 presidential debate.
“Considering the position of the Cagayan de Oro Press Club as well as communities who feel marginalized by the exclusivity of this Sunday’s Pilipinas Debate 2016, we have decided this morning to politely decline the offer to sit in the event. We are sit from our homes. We hope that you understand that our decision is in solidarity with the local groups who we believe represent the legitimate concerns of communities in Mindanao,” Manlupig said. (davaotoday.com)