Palace Spokesperson berates reporter during live broadcast

Screengrab from RTVMalacañang video.

CMFR/PHILIPPINES — Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque berated a reporter during a televised media briefing for her supposedly misleading report on his statement on mass testing as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

During a May 19 press briefing, Roque accused CNN reporter Triciah Terada of failing to report accurately what he said in a previous statement. He singled out a CNN Philippines report for its supposed inaccuracy, and for insinuating that the government has no program on expanded target testing. Roque also said that the government has not passed on the responsibility for conducting  expanded target testing to the private sector as  the report claimed.

The report, which was bylined by CNN staff and not by Terada,  stated that Roque on his May 18 press briefing said that the government has no plans to carry out mass testing and is leaving such efforts to the private sector.

The report quoted Roque as saying that “As much as possible, ini-increase natin ang capacity ng testing kaya nga we’re aiming na aabot tayo sa 30,000 (a day), pero in terms sa mass testing na ginagawa ng Wuhan na all 11 million (residents), wala pa pong ganyang programa at iniiwan natin ‘yan sa pribadong sector.” (We are increasing our capacity to test, which is why we’re aiming for 30,000 a day,  but in terms of mass testing such as what Wuhan is doing to all 11 million residents, we do not have that program and we’re leaving that to the private sector.)

The same story was also carried by several other news organizations.

Roque did not entertain follow-up questions from Terada and instead  answered other questions from other journalists.

In a statement, CNN Philippines stood by its story. The news organization also said it regrets that Terada was not given a chance defend herself against the attack that “could harm her reputation as a journalist and a professional.”

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) also issued a statement asking Roque to apologize publicly.

In an interview on ANC’s Headstart, Roque refused to issue a public apology and insisted that he had been misquoted. He, however, acknowledged that Terada was not the writer of the article but added that it was her responsibility to correct the story of her news organization.