'Bringing change is not an easy task. The Duterte administration has disturbed/disrupted the establishment. However, we remain undistracted in delivering goods and services to serve the people, not just the interest of the few.' - Martin Andanar
MANILA, Philippines– Senate reporters on Monday demanded an apology from Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar for saying that journalists were paid as much as $1,000 (P50,225) to cover a press conference held by Senator Antonio Trillanes IV.
“To our knowledge, no such incident occurred. Such practice is not tolerated among Senate reporters. We would like to ask the secretary to prove his allegations as such statements placed our credibility and our respective media entities under a cloud of doubt,” the Senate media said in a statement.
“Otherwise, we demand a public apology from Secretary Andanar for spreading ‘fake news’, truly unbecoming of someone who, just a few months ago, came from the media industry,” the group added.
On Monday’s press conference, Trillanes and lawyers from the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) presented retired SPO3 Arthur Lascañas, who admitted the existence of a death squad during the time of President Rodrigo Duterte as mayor of Davao City.
Martin Andanar, citing a source, was quoted in a television interview as saying that $1,000 (about P50,000) were given to some Senate reporters so they would cover Trillanes’ press conference.
Senate reporters were outraged by Andanar’s “unsubstantiated and irresponsible” claim.
Antonio Trillanes also denied Andanar’s accusation, saying it was just meant to divert the issue
“I categorically deny na nagbigay ako o kung sino man ng $1k sa mga reporters na nagcover ng presscon kanina. Hindi namin gawain yan at mataas ang respeto namin sa Senate Media para gawin iyan,” Trillanes said.
(I categorically deny that I or anyone gave $1,000 to reporters covering the press conference earlier. We don’t do that and we have high respect for the Senate media.)
“That's the height of irresponsibility for a Cabinet official to say that publicly. I believe this is just to divert the issue of the President's complicity to multiple murder as confessed to the public by SPO3 Arthur Lascañas.”
In a separate statement, Martin Andanar said the press conference of Lascañas was "part of a protracted political drama aimed to destroy the President and to topple his administration."
"The demolition job against President Duterte continues," he noted.
"Bringing change is not an easy task. The Duterte administration has disturbed/disrupted the establishment. However, we remain undistracted in delivering goods and services to serve the people, not just the interest of the few."
Martin Andanar said people were aware that the claims were part of "vicious politics orchestrated by sectors affected by the reforms initiated by the Duterte administration.