A presidential spokesman has criticised a drug-war report by British news agency Reuters, despite admitting that he hadn’t read it.
Harry Roque said the investigation into the so-called Davao Boys, who are blamed for numerous extra-judicial killings in Quezon City, was “bad journalism”.
He also said that the administration was not given enough time to have its say on the allegations, claiming they were given only one hour to respond.
“That’s bad journalism,” he said. “She went ahead and published it without my statement and how dare anyone give anyone a deadline to respond.”
However, Reuters has categorically denied this, saying it gave the administration ample time to give their side of the story.
“The claim that Reuters gave the president’s office just an hour to respond is untrue,” a statement issued by the news agency read. “Reuters sent questions to the president’s office a week before the story was published and the president’s office confirmed it had received them.
“Reuters followed that up with phone calls and emails, but the president’s office never responded to our questions.”
The article in question, which was published on Tuesday, is about a group of police officers from the president’s home city of Davao and how they “racked up kills” in the drug war.
The “Davao Boys” led most of the anti-drug operations in Quezon City Police District Station 6. Officers from this district station allegedly killed 108 people in anti-drug operations from July 2016 to June 2017, Reuters reported.
In a separate statement issued yesterday, Philippines Communications Assistant Secretary Queenie Dizon confirmed that Reuters had in fact been in touch last week.
However, she said that she was busy attending to the needs of the typhoon-stricken province Biliran.
“I strongly denounce Reuters’ claim that the ‘president’s office never responded to our questions’ as untrue in so many levels,” the statement reads.
“The writer of the article, Clare Baldwin, called me on December 18, Monday night, and I wasn’t able to answer/saw a missed call since I was in Biliran… in the middle of the sea, carried by a small boat on the way back to Tacloban. Is Ms Baldwin’s story more important while I was in Ground Zero of Typhoon Urduja?”
Baldwin, an award-winning journalist is credited as the writer of the articles together with Pulitzer Prize winner Andrew R C Marshall.