By Reymond Pepito
Fresh from his successful engagements in the cities if Vientiane and Jakarta, I watched President Duterte live on Facebook delivered a speech and entertained questions from the members of the press around 1:00 AM today. I saw a tired, yet excited old man ready to share stories of his international debut as a head of state. As usual, Duterte exuded his seriousness, yet fun-loving persona that made the audience both laugh and listen well.
More than 2,000 viewers from different cities in the globe watched with me. As I attentively listened to Duterte, I can’t help but also observed how people expressed their varying reactions thru comments and emoticons.
The screen was flooded with flying likes, hearts and smileys. The comment section however, was filled of anti-media sentiments asking the President to stop answering queries for at the end of the day every word he delivers will be put out of context.
In that very moment, as a communication professional, I was saddened how the public expressed their hate and concern about the press.
Duterte was asked by one journalist whether he was angry or not to the media after reports were released about him cursing Obama that became an international headline.
The old man replied with much respect and understanding. Instead, he acknowledged that it is the sworn duty of the press to ask questions and create reports. He made it clear that he was not angry assuming that they (the media) reported it without malice.
He made Ed Lingao of TV5’s recent remarks as an example. He accepted the presenter’s apology and stressed that everybody commits mistakes.
Duterte emphasized that his administration welcomes criticisms and encouraged the media to perform their duties for the sake of their country. To some extent, he even recognized the cameramen in the room for they play a significant role in recording history. He sort of boosted up the morale of their profession.
Maybe the disheartening remarks I’ve read in the comment box are not made to ask some of our friends and colleagues in the media to broadcast euphemisms, but instead to stick to what is true –no twisting of words, no exaggeration, just abiding to the call of service and doing it for the sake of our country.
Today, the President showed us what respect and understanding are. I could only wish that these two values were fueled by the ASEAN spirit he recently imbibe as he showed the world a new face of diplomacy.
About the author: Reymond Pepito is a communication professional and an ASEAN youth leader.