June 19, 2018
Presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza is too quick to hurl accusations of irresponsible journalism against news outfits that reported that Norway would no longer be the third-party facilitator for peace talks between the government and communist rebels.
Especially so given that he, at the very least, should be aware that the source of the story, presidential spokesman Harry Roque, has built a reputation for prevarication within an administration that has time and again proven itself to be the prime purveyor of falsehood and, in fact, has welcomed experts of this dark craft into the bureaucracy.
Instead of immediately taking Roque’s denial at face value, Dureza, who, after all, has long been a pillar of the Philippine Press Institute, should have checked his colleague’s claim against the record.
During the question and answer, CNN Philippines’ Ina Andolong asked whether President Rodrigo Duterte wanted the talks held in the country “and not be facilitated by Norway” and what the formal process for transferring the venue might be.
When Roque did not give an unequivocal reply to these questions, Andolong eventually asked: “Who will be facilitating the talks here then?”
SEC. ROQUE: We have a panel and they have the authority to fix the logistics ‘no.
INA/CNN PHILS.: No third party—
SEC. ROQUE: Wala na po siguro, nandito na naman tayo sa Pilipinas. Pero you know any party who wants to help and who’s been involved in the process can help ‘no. Pero ang punto lang ni Presidente eh hindi niya na maintindihan kung bakit kinakailangan pa sa ibang bansa ‘no ang pag-uusap.
That “wala na po siguro” is what many news outfits reported.
While Dureza had reason enough to worry about the reports, the fault lay not with media but with the government’s all too often muddled communications, particularly Roque who eventually tried to weasel his way out of a bad situation by claiming, in a subsequent statement, that he had only talked about Duterte’s wish for the talks to be held in the country.
But the record is clear. Roque is, at best, cherry picking through his words, at worst, brazenly twisting the truth. Which seems par for the course as far as this administration goes.
Dureza owes the journalists he wrongly accused an apology. And while, truth to tell, we do not expect one, we would love to be surprised.
Mr. Nonoy Espina
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