Roque refuses call to apologize to CNN reporter after press briefing rant
In this May 19, 2020 screenshot, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque answers the questions of CNN Philippines correspondent Triciah Terada on the government's program for mass testing of COVID-19 patients.
RTVM screengrab

Roque refuses call to apologize to CNN reporter after press briefing rant

Ratziel San Juan (Philstar.com) - May 20, 2020 - 12:53pm

MANILA, Philippines — Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque on Wednesday denied calls for him to publicly apologize to a reporter whom he had extensively berated during yesterday's virtual Palace briefing.

Roque had accused CNN Philippines correspondent Triciah Terada of publishing inaccurate information in an article she didn’t write over supposedly incorrect use of the term “mass testing,” before denying her a chance to clarify.

RELATED: 'I'm more relaxed now': Harry Roque answers to TV journalist Joseph Morong only

"It was very clear. It was a wrong quote. It was a misquote, because the context that the mass testing had to do with a Wuhan-type testing was omitted," the presidential spokesman said in an interview with ANC's "Headstart" Wednesday morning.

Despite maintaining his stance on the issue, Roque said that he has contacted Terada.

“Now, whatever it is that I owe Trish... I've talked to Trish and whatever it is that I should do, I've done it... It turns out that it was not Trish who wrote the article. And I think personally, I've sent a message to Trish, but I also feel that as the Malacañang reporter, she should have corrected the story of her news outfit, particularly because it's her beat.”

'Expanded targeted testing, not mass testing'

Earlier in the Tuesday briefing, Roque said that the proper phrase is "expanded targeted testing" and not "mass testing," even though he has repeatedly used the latter in previous briefings.

CNN Philippines, however, stood by the veracity of its article in question and denounced Roque for his treatment of their Malacañang reporter.

“Secretary Roque also said that only CNN Philippines reported about the issue but in reality, other news organizations carried the story as well. Further, we find unfortunate the manner by which the Secretary treated our Malacañang correspondent Triciah Terada in today's televised press conference. He accused Ms. Terada, a well-respected journalist and member of our reportorial staff, of filing an inaccurate report,” the news organization’s statement read.

“For the record, Ms. Terada did not write the digital story. It is likewise regrettable that Ms. Terada was not given a chance to challenge the allegations made against her and defend herself from the public attack that could harm her reputation as a journalist and a professional.”

Roque said that CNN Philippines has since corrected the story in question "so there was really a mistake."

But according to the web page of the article in question, it was most recently updated hours after it was published on Monday, not following the briefing where he criticized Terada.

Roque also said that the article he previously claimed Trish wrote had no byline, calling out the news organization for not revealing the author.

“Whoever wrote the article, and there was no byline, that's the problem. Why is it that some news agencies do not have bylines for these stories para we know who wrote it?” he said.

“In this case, there was really an error that they have corrected but we also need to know who that person was. Because I think as a professional, the journalist who made the error should be identified because it will affect their reputation.”

In response to the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines’ (NUJP) demand for him to admit his mistreatment of the CNN Philippines reporter, Roque said he did not owe them anything and on the contrary, it is them who owe him.

In a statement released Tuesday night, NUJP pointed out that a transcript of Monday's press briefing showed that he responded to the request of GMA reporter Joseph Morong that the government had no mass testing program.

The group also noted that Roque did not need to answer the question as there was a more qualified expert to discuss the matter.

"Officials who earn public ire for their pronouncements should not blame journalists who are merely doing their jobs," NUJP said.

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