By Roy Ramos
ZAMBOANGA CITY, the Philippines (AA) – A spokesman for Philippines President-elect Rodrigo Duterte insisted Saturday that the United Nations chief’s criticism of the incoming leader's statement on media killings was based on "incorrect news reports".
The incoming president has drawn flak for his recent comments claiming some slain journalists had received payoffs or were involved in shady deals.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon voiced his objection Thursday, telling a UN Correspondents Association Reception in New York that he was “extremely disturbed” by Duterte’s remarks.
“I unequivocally condemn his apparent endorsement of extrajudicial killing, which is illegal and a breach of fundamental rights and freedoms,” said Ban. “Such comments are of particular concern in light of on-going impunity for serious cases of violence against journalists in the Philippines.”
The Philippines’ incoming presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a statement Saturday that Duterte "chastises" those involved in "irresponsible journalism", and described Ban’s criticism as "unfortunate".
"Obviously the UN Secretary-General believed the incorrect news reports that gave rise to such wrong perception," he said.
"The President-elect has not endorsed -- can not -- and will never endorse extrajudicial killings they being contrary to law,” underlined Panelo, a lawyer by profession. “He does not condone the killing of journalists nor any citizen for that matter, regardless of its purpose.”
Following both local and international condemnation of his comments, Duterte declared he would temporarily boycott media interviews to avoid further criticism and wrong statements.
The outspoken politician, who served seven terms as the mayor of the southern city of Davao, is set to assume office June 30.