TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) -Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte denied on Tuesday influencing a regulator’s decision to revoke the license of a news website known for challenging his government, but lashed out strongly at what he called a “fake news outlet”.
The firebrand leader laughed off allegations he was cracking down on media and insisted there was nothing political about the decision of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to declare the operations of news site Rappler (www.rappler.com) in violation of laws on foreign ownership.
Duterte, who has previously made no secret of his annoyance at Rappler’s reporting, said the news site had been “throwing trash and shit all along”, adding that its stories were full of innuendo and “pregnant with falsity”.
The SEC’s decision is not final and Rappler, which has been allowed to operate as normal, said it would appeal.
Duterte said he could not care less whether Rappler continued to operate or not, and challenged it to prove that he was behind the SEC’s move against it.
“Since you are a fake news outlet then I am not surprised that your articles are also fake,” Duterte told reporters, referring to the news site.
“We can debate now. Tell me where is our lies and I’ll tell you where are yours.”
Duterte ridiculed Rappler’s argument that the SEC decision was harassment, and suggested it was hypocritical for finding fault with his government while having broken the law itself.
“Look, why should you complain if I am critical against media? Are you not critical of me?”
Responding to Duterte’s outburst, Rappler said: ”The president knows who produces fake news in the Philippines, and it certainly is not Rappler.
“He doesn’t have to look far from where he sits in Malacanang,” it said, referring to the presidential palace.
Rappler is the latest entity to have taken on Duterte and found itself subjected to various forms of scrutiny initiated by his political allies, usually after his public outbursts against those who have dared to challenge him.
His government has denied that his supporters are doing his bidding for him, including followers who have launched scathing online attacks on critics and journalists.
Duterte himself has previously voiced disagreement with some action against his opponents, although he has stopped short of intervening to stop it.