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President-Elect of Philippines: Most Murdered Journalists Deserved to Die

The president-elect of the Philippines does not seem enthusiastic to protect journalists.

Presidential frontrunner and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte casts his vote at a voting precint at Daniel Aguinaldo National High School in Davao City, on the southern island of Mindanao on May 9, 2016.
Voting was underway in the Philippines on May 9 to elect a new president, with anti-establishment firebrand Rodrigo Duterte the shock favourite after an incendiary campaign in which he vowed to butcher criminals. / AFP / NOEL CELIS        (Photo credit should read NOEL CELIS/AFP/Getty Images)
Presidential frontrunner and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte casts his vote at a voting precint at Daniel Aguinaldo National High School in Davao City, on the southern island of Mindanao on May 9, 2016. Voting was underway in the Philippines on May 9 to elect a new president, with anti-establishment firebrand Rodrigo Duterte the shock favourite after an incendiary campaign in which he vowed to butcher criminals. / AFP / NOEL CELIS (Photo credit should read NOEL CELIS/AFP/Getty Images)

In 2003, Philippine radio commentator Jun Pala — an outspoken critic of Rodrigo Duterte, the then-mayor of Davao — was shot and killed by gunmen on a motorcycle in the southern island city.

On Tuesday, Duterte, who is now president-elect of the country, said Pala “deserved it.”

Duterte was asked at press conference in his hometown how he would better protect journalists in the wake of another journalist murder in Manila last week. Alex Balcoba, a veteran crime reporter, was shot dead by unknown gunmen in front of his family’s watch repair shop.

Duterte responded by saying dishonest reporters deserved to die.

“Just because you’re a journalist you are not exempted from assassination, if you’re a son of a bitch,” he said. “The example here is Pala. I do not want to diminish his memory but he was a rotten son of a bitch.”

Journalists face immense risk reporting in the Philippines, where at least 174 of them have been killed over the last three decades, including more than 30 who were murdered in a single incident in 2009. But Duterte simply isn’t sympathetic.

“Most of those killed, to be frank, have done something,” he said. “You won’t be killed if you don’t do anything wrong.”

Duterte ran on campaign promises to kill tens of thousands of criminals and reinstate shoot-and-kill policies to fight back against drug use and extremism in the Philippines. According to him, it will wipe out all crime within three to six months.

“After the first hanging, there will be another ceremony for the second time until the head is completely severed from the body,” he said earlier this month, describing his plans for capital punishment, which revert to hanging in order to not waste bullets by using a firing squad. “Do not destroy my country because I will kill you. I will kill you. No middle ground. As long as the requirements of the law are there, if you try to evade arrest, refuse arrest… and you put up a good fight or resist violently, I will say: ‘Kill them.'”

Photo Credit: NOEL CELIS/AFP/Getty Images

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