By Arjay L. Balinbin, Reporter
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) on Tuesday, June 19, slammed Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus G. Dureza for hurling “accusations of irresponsible journalism” against media outfits.
“Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus (G.) 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,” the NUJP said in a statement.
Mr. Dureza, the NUJP also said, “should be aware that the source of the story, Presidential Spokesman Harry (L.) Roque, (Jr.) 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 [Mr.] Roque’s denial at face value, [Mr.] Dureza, who, after all, has long been a pillar of the Philippine Press Institute, should have checked his colleague’s claim against the record.”
The organization explained that during the press briefing at the Palace on Monday, CNN Philippines’ reporter Ina Andolong “asked whether President Rodrigo R. 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.”
The NUJP said “[w]hen the spokesman did not give an unequivocal reply to these questions, [Ms.] Andolong eventually asked: ‘Who will be facilitating the talks here then?'”
“We have a panel and they have the authority to fix the logistics,” Mr. Roque replied.
Ms. Andolong then asked, “No third party…”
“Wala na po siguro, kasi nandito naman tayo sa Pilipinas (Perhaps there is no need, because we’re here in the Philippines),” Mr. Roque said.
He added: “Pero (But) you know, any party who wants to help and who’s been involved in the process can help.”
“The record is clear,” the NUJP said. “[Mr.] 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. [Mr.] 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.”
In a statement issued on Monday evening, Mr Dureza said: “The media report saying Norway is being removed or is no longer a ‘facilitator’ in the peace negotiations between the Philippine government and the communist rebels is a total fabrication. It is an example of irresponsible journalism.”
“In fact, I am now in Oslo, Norway to attend an International Forum on Conflict Mediation and to express our country’s gratitude for Norway’s significant and continuing support to the long drawn peace negotiations with the left. I am also here to explain to them the reason why the planned resumption of the peace talks discussed during backchannel meetings, was reset,” he also said.
For his part, Mr. Roque clarified that Norway can still play its role as a third-party facilitator in the peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the communist rebels.
“Norway can still have a role in the ongoing peace talks with the CPP-NPA (Communist Party of the Philippines- New People’s Army),” he said in a televised press briefing in Cotabato City on Tuesday afternoon.
Mr. Roque explained that he was “only referring to the venue.”
“We hope this sets the record straight that what I said is any peace negotiation that would be entered into by the Philippine government and communist rebels should be held inside the country…Norway can continue to help the Philippines as a third party facilitator of the peace talks,” he also said.