The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) said that Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque should apologize to CNN Philippines for berating its reporter in an online press briefing Tuesday, May 12.
In a statement, the media group said Roque owes the media company and reporter Triciah Terada an apology for “his boorish and, as it turned out, misbegotten tirade.”
Reacting to a CNN tweet on Monday, May 18, Roque denied he admitted that the government has no coronavirus mass testing program and would leave it to private businesses.
“It was reported that the government has no plan or action, or that the expanded target testing is not a priority. This is very wrong,” Roque said in Filipino.
He said reporter Terada quoted him “out of context,” adding that CNN’s tweet insinuated that the government has passed on to the private sector the responsibility for expanded testing.
CNN said in a statement it is standing by its story, adding the report was not written by Terada.
“CNN Philippines assures the public that we reported the facts in the May 18 story,” it said.
Roque was in fact responding to the request of GMA’s Joseph Morong to confirm that government had no mass testing program, to which he replied, “[I]n terms of mass testing that Wuhan (China) did with all its 11 million residents, we have no such program and we leave that to the private sector.”
NUJP said that, ironically, even as he berated Terada, Roque unwittingly proved in effect the report right when he said, “It is not mass testing that we are doing, it is expanded targeted testing.”
Multiple news organizations also carried the same story that quoted Roque.
“Officials who earn public ire for their pronouncements should not blame journalists who are merely doing their jobs,” NUJP said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)