Philippines: Politician attacks reporter over critical article

Deputy Speaker Rodante Marcoleta has attacked ABS-CBN reporter Mike Navallo, calling him ‘un-Filipino’ after a report questioning Marcoleta’s criticism of ABS-CBN chairman over dual citizenship claims. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) supports its affiliate the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) in rejecting this ‘personal revenge’ against the journalist and demand an apology from the politician.

An employee looks at an announcement of a Philippine tv network shutted down on his mobile phone on May 5, 2020. Credit: Maria Tan/AFP

On June 3, Navallo reported that Marcoleta questioned ABS-CBN chairman Eugenio "Gabby" Lopez  citizenship despite Marcoleta pushing for a legislation to allow  Filipinos with dual citizenships to run for public office without renouncing their foreign citizenship.

The Department of Justice has confirmed that Lopez is a Filipino citizen because both parents  are born in the Philippines. Lopez is also the holder of a  US passport because he was born in the United States.

During  the hearing on ABS-CBN franchise bills on June 8, Marcoleta accused  the reporter of revealing public records on his past statements without giving the legislator time to reply.  Since Lopez does not intend to run for any public office, there is no requirement to renounce his American citizenship. Yet Marcoleta has cast doubt whether a dual citizen can own and manage a mass media company. As reported, Marcoleta also voted in favour of an amendment to the Public Service Act which would allow 100% foreign ownership in telecoms and other public services. 

Navallo’s exclusive report was based on legislative records, which are available publicly. In his tweet on June 3, Navallo said that the network had tried to get Marcoleta’s side of the story since Tuesday of last week.  

NUJP said: If, as Marcoleta claims, Navallo's report was wrong, the proper thing to do would be to call the attention of the station and file his complaint, not turn the halls of Congress into a bully pulpit to slake his personal vendetta.Clearly, Marcoleta owes not only Navallo but Lopez and the ABS-CBN network who he unjustly maligned by his irresponsible accusations and faulty logic, a very public and, hopefully, sincere apology.

The IFJ said:“Attacking a journalist in public hearing sessions on trumped up accusations is an assault on the rights of journalists. IFJ demands Marcoleta apologise for these insults and cease undermining journalists who are reporting in the public interest.”

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on [email protected]

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

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