Palace says it understands Thai newspaper for calling Philippines 'land of COVID'
Train staff members in protective suits stand next to buses and passengers at a train station in Manila on July 7, 2020, after authorities suspended operation of one of the train lines after some of its staff tested positive of COVID -19 disease.
AFP/Miggy Hilario
Palace says it understands Thai newspaper for calling Philippines 'land of COVID'
Alexis Romero (Philstar.com) - August 11, 2020 - 7:22pm

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang Tuesday linked a Thai newspaper headline calling the Philippines "land of COVID" to the supposed media restrictions in Thailand.

Newspaper Thai Rath gave the Philippines the unflattering description in an August 9 article about the arrival of 165 Filipino teachers in Thailand.

Philippine Embassy in Bangkok Consul General Val Simon Roque has expressed "deep dissatisfaction" over the headline, saying its characterization of the Philippines was “inappropriate, insensitive, and unhelpful.” Roque has also assured the newspaper that Filipinos returning to Thailand are following health protocols and quarantine measures.

While the Philippine embassy in Bangkok cried foul over the description, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said Filipinos should just understand the Thai newspaper.

"As a lawyer and defender of the rights of journalists and bloggers, I have several clients who are Thai bloggers and journalists. There is really no free press and free expression in Thailand. If you criticize the king, you may be jailed," the Palace official said in Filipino.

"I think, since they cannot criticize a lot of people in Thailand, they just opted to criticize us. Let us just understand them. We in the Philippines know the importance of free expression. Let's just accept it as an input in the free market of ideas," he added.

The Thai Rath story was published after the Philippines became the Southeast Asian country with the highest number of coronavirus disease 2019 infections. The country already has more than 139,000 COVID-19 cases as of Tuesday.

At the same press briefing, Roque vowed to file charges against those who are peddling "fake news" about him. He noted that a quote card claiming that he had belittled the pandemic is circulating in social media.

"Iyong mga magkakalat ng fake news, sasampolan ko po kayo. Paimbestigahan ko kayo at ako po ay magsasampa ng kaso, antayin ninyo po iyan (To those spreading fake news, I will run after you. I will have you investigated  and I will file charges. Watch out)," the Palace spokesman said.  

"At the time of a pandemic, those who have nothing to do should not spread fake news," he added.

Related video:

2019 N-COV NOVEL CORONAVIRUS
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