I am no Duterte fanatic. I criticize him more scathingly than anyone when his mouth is out of line. But this time, Duterte really didn’t say anything wrong. The real culprits behind the fuss over his Hitler comment are Karen Lema and Manuel Mogato, two Filipino reporters of the Reuters news agency, who wrote this article: “Philippines’ Duterte likens himself to Hitler, wants to kill millions of drug addicts”.
Lema and Mogato are Filipinos. There’s no way they could have misunderstood what Duterte really meant in his speech. If you can, just watch the original video to hear what the President said.
“Hitler massacred 3 million Jews. There are 3 million drug addicts. I’d be happy to slaughter them. At least, if Germany had Hitler, the Philippines would have ….. my victims, all criminals, to finish a problem of my country, and save the next generation.”
Duterte was contrasting himself from Hitler, not likening himself to Hitler. He was obviously referring to past incidents where various people (including former President, Noynoy Aquino) compared him to Hitler. Duterte’s point was, unlike Hitler, the people getting killed in his drug war are criminals, not innocents.
But Lema and Mogato deliberately misrepresented what he said by using the headline “Philippines’ Duterte likens himself to Hitler”. Since Reuters is an international wire agency, Lema and Mogato knew that the foreign news outlets who pick up their story won’t be able to tell the difference between their headline and what Duterte actually said.
The malicious intent is clear, judging from how these two even obtained quotes from representatives of Jewish organizations before publishing their article, instead of simply reporting what the President said as is.
This cheap, pathetic stunt is yet another example why journalism should be a regulated profession. What Lema and Mogato did is no less than a criminal act. It may even be considered a terrorist act, because the intent to sow conflict, fear, and instability is clear.
If lawyers, doctors, or businessmen did what Lema and Mogato did, they would be sent to jail. But since Lema and Mogato are journalists, all they have to do is cry “Martial Law or the Fourth Estate” and they get off scott free.
Is this right? Is this just? Is this the meaning of democracy? Are journalists now allowed to commit illegal and seditious acts, just because they’re journalists? Democracy is about respecting the will of the people, and not just the will of journalists. Our laws should be protecting our people, not protecting journalists who deliberately endanger the welfare and stability of our country.
Over 90% of Filipinos still support President Duterte and his program of government. Are we going to let a handful of disgruntled brats who call themselves journalists subvert the will of the Filipino people?
These malicious and irresponsible journalists are the true enemies of Philippine democracy, and they should be punished with the full force of the law.