Duterte sympathizes with CDO media over discrimination on Comelec debate coverage

February 15, 2016 11:25 pm 

By Lilian C. Mellejor

DAVAO CITY, Feb. 15 (PNA) — Presidential candidate Mayor Rodrigo Duterte is supporting the move of the Cagayan de Oro media to boycott the presidential debate of the Commission on Elections (Comelec), saying, “I will not go there also. Pagka ganun (If it’s like that) you limit the (press coverage).”

Duterte’s statement came on the heels of report that the Cagayan de Oro Press Club is set to boycott the first of three rounds the presidential debate on February 21 to express their indignation over the issuance of a guideline by Manila-based organizers limiting the participation of the local press coverage of the debate at the Capitol University in Cagayan de Oro City.

The debate is initiated by the Comelec in partnership with GMA-7, Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas and the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

While he is yet to consult his plans to skip the presidential debate, Duterte however asked why press coverage should be limited.

“Kaya nga ako tumatakbong (That is why I am running for) president because I want people from the provinces to be given equal treatment. Kaya ako ay (That’s why I am) for federalism,” Duterte said when interviewed by reporters after the thanksgiving prayer of Rev. Apollo Quiboloy at the Kingdom of Jesus Christ in Buhangin, this city on Sunday night.

Duterte however said he is confident the Comelec will find time to dialogue with the press clubs of the host cities of the debates and strike a win-win solution, otherwise it would be unfortunate if the local media will feel they are being treated as second class citizens in the press community.

The report also drew criticism from Duterte’s runningmate, vice presidential candidate Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, who said the local media "should be given equal treatment and be spared from discrimination."

Duterte and Cayetano are strongly advocating the passage of the Freedom of Information bill and campaigning for federalism for dispersed and equal regional development.

The Cagayan de Oro Press Club (COPC) slammed the guideline as a clear case of discrimination towards the province-based media.

“There have been many instances in the past when Manila-based media organizations have condescended on the provincial press. The presidential debate in the city is no exception,” a Mindanews report said, quoting a resolution passed by COPC during its general assembly last Saturday. The statement was signed by its president Msgr. Elmer Abacahin and immediate past president Jerry Orcullo.

COPC has called for the stoppage of the discriminatory and condescending attitude towards the local press community.

Mindanews reported that only five slots will be allotted to Cagayan de Oro-based media for editors/publishers as audience in the venue that can accommodate only 500 – and only five newspaper reporters will be allowed access to the event’s media center–a separate venue where a video monitor will broadcast feeds of the debate.

The rest of the audience will be ushered to the bigger venue at the Capitol University gym which can accommodate 5,000 people and will have giant LCD screens.

According to Abacahin, it is not for the debate organizers or the Philippine Press Institute (PPI) to choose who to allow inside the debate area to ensure that participating journalists are “legit local press” because the media community in the city “would know better.”

“The DuCay (Duterte-Cayetano) team advocates Federalism precisely to give locals in the regions their fair share from too capital-centric policies and even attitudes,” the head of media bureau Peter Tiu Laviña said. (PNA)

LAP/LCM/LDP

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