MANILA – Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque rejected the call of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) to apologize to a reporter for berating and cutting her off during a press conference for allegedly misquoting him on government’s coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) testing efforts.
“I don’t owe anything to NUJP. I’ve done work for NUJP, they probably owe me, I don’t owe them,” Roque said in an interview over ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC) on Wednesday.
The NUJP, in a statement, described Roque’s actions as “boorish and, as it turned out, misbegotten tirade.”
“Officials who earn public ire for their pronouncements should not blame journalists who are merely doing their jobs,” the NUJP said.
Roque, however, insisted that he was misquoted since CNN even “corrected” their story.
“CNN has since corrected the story so there was really a mistake. If there’s a mistake, if you acknowledge the mistake, I don’t even demand an apology. Just correct it because we’re all in the business of the truth, that to me is enough,” Roque said.
Roque also said he has personally spoken with CNN reporter Trish Terada who explained that she did not write the article, but pointed out that as Malacañang reporter she should have corrected the story.
“It turns out it was not Trish who wrote the article and I think personally I’ve sent a message to Trish but I also feel that as the Malacañang reporter, she should have corrected the story of her news outfit particularly because it’s her beat,” he said.
He said the real person behind the story should be identified since the article was published without a byline.
“Whoever wrote the article and there was no byline, that’s the problem. Why is it that some news agencies do not have bylines for their stories para (so) we know who wrote it,” he said.
In a press conference aired over state-run PTV4 Tuesday, Roque singled out Terada for an online article headlined “Up to private sector to carry out mass testing, Roque says amid limited testing capacity” when other media outlets published similar stories.
Roque scolded her, saying that the article made it sound like the government had no mass testing program when it did have an “expanded targeted testing” program since it was impossible to test the country’s entire population.
“I have to call you out. Kita mo naman ang naging resulta ng inyong reporting at ikaw lang ang nag-report na ganyan (You see the result of what your report, you’re the only one who reported it that way),” he said.
CNN Philippines, in a statement, stood by its story but also found it “regrettable” that Terada was not given a chance to defend herself from public attacks that could harm her reputation as a journalist. (ia/PNA)