Philippines’ Duterte Dares Media to Stop Covering Him, Blasts UN

duterte

Rodrigo Duterte speaks in Davao on May 31.

Photographer: Manman Dejeto/AFP via Getty Images
  • Duterte tells media to follow him through state-run network
  • Incoming leader promises ‘metamorphosis’ once he takes office

Philippine President-elect Rodrigo Duterte dared reporters Thursday night 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,” Duterte said in English during a two-hour televised briefing that started at 9:10 p.m. “I do not care if no one is covering me. Do not threaten me, I said I’m ready to lose the presidency, my honor or my life. Just do not fuck with me.”

Duterte called the briefing for 5 p.m. Thursday after he drew flack for his May 31 comments on corrupt journalists whom he said aren’t 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 organization promoting journalists’ safety, wasn’t spared by 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, Duterte said.

At around 11 p.m., 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, Duterte promised a “metamorphosis” once he takes his oath as president.

“I’m enjoying my time as a rude person,” Duterte 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.”

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