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Journalist Says Supporters Of Philippine President-Elect Threaten Her Online


The president-elect of the Philippines says he does not condone the killing of journalists - doesn't sound like something a normal politician would need to say.


But Rodrigo Duterte is not a normal politician. Last month, he outraged journalists when he appeared to suggest that some of them deserved to get killed, this in a country that ranks third, just behind Iraq and Syria, on a list of places where journalists are murdered.

RAISSA ROBLES: And many of them are broadcast journalists who come on radio programs and attack politicians.

GREENE: That is this Raissa Robles. She is an investigative journalist and a political blogger based in the capital, Manila. She told us Duterte's attack on the media came at a press conference last month. He also berated reporters. He used profanity against the press and catcalled a female reporter. We should warn you, some of the language you're about to hear might not be appropriate for all listeners.

ROBLES: When journalists started asking him - how are you going to solve the crime situation? - you said you're going to solve them in three to six months' time. When the questions started getting tough, he has a way of trying to divert the attention of journalists when he doesn't want to answer their question.

GREENE: OK. So this is not just antics. I mean, he has been accused, at least, of being involved in having journalists and other people killed.

ROBLES: That's right. And then, during the campaign, he claimed that he even killed over a thousand people. We don't know whether or not to believe him.

GREENE: So you are an investigative journalist who has...


GREENE: ...Criticized the government in the past. I mean, you listen to him saying some of these things. How nervous are you?

ROBLES: Pretty nervous. What I've noticed is that Duterte's supporters are especially vicious. I've been threatened on Facebook and Twitter. I get tweets like - would you like me to bury you alive?

GREENE: Oh, my.

ROBLES: And another tweet says, I hope you are raped from behind. I have never been the recipient of such vicious language in all my years as a journalist.

GREENE: Well, I'm so sorry that you're facing those kinds of comments. And - the president's supporters who are showing this anger and making these comments - what is driving them?

ROBLES: I think they're driven by the idea that Duterte means well and Duterte will save the Philippines and will reform society.

GREENE: Save the Philippines from what? I mean, what are people afraid of about the Philippines that they're hoping the president will...

ROBLES: From drugs, from criminality because that's one of the main promises of Duterte. I will kill all the drug pushers and drug dealers in six months' time.

GREENE: This is coming from a place, at least in some cases, where people want their country to be better. But they're...


GREENE: ...Releasing that anger in this sort of way.

ROBLES: And also, they're angry at people who do not see what they see or who try to counter them. They do not have any middle ground. Duterte has released the monster in the Filipino. I'm sorry to say that. But it's something that I haven't seen for a long, long time. The last time I saw it was during the Marcos dictatorship.

GREENE: Raissa Robles is an investigative journalist and a political blogger based in Manila. And she's also author of a book about the Philippines' late dictator. Her book is titled "Marcos Martial Law: Never Again." Raissa, thank you.

ROBLES: Yes. Thank you, David. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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