Roque wants to explain value of journalists to Mocha Uson

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Story updated to include statement of blogger RJ Nieto.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 7) — Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque wants to meet with Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Asec. Mocha Uson to tell her why legitimate journalists should be valued and respected.

Speaking at the Malacanang briefing on Monday, the lawyer and law professor said he hopes to help Uson appreciate the value of critical media.

Uson, an avid supporter of President Duterte online, is known for claiming mainstream media is biased. She, along with other pro-Duterte blogs have accused news outlets of spreading fake news online.

Roque said he will explain to Uson and other people why press freedom is important.

"In due course, we will explain, in a manner na maiintindihan ng lahat kung bakit importante ang karapatan ng malayang pamamamahayag… So i hope Asec. Mocha will accept being a student of the Spokesperson," he said.

Roque has defended a number of journalists who faced libel suits before. He has also defended families of journalists killed in the Maguindanao massacre.

As far he is concerned, he said legitimate journalists also played a key role in president Duterte's victory in the 2016 elections.

"Yung 'teka teka' policy ng nakaraang administrasyon, yung korapsyon sa pork barrel na ebidensya na yung nakalipas na administrasyon ay ang daming kapalpakan… hindi rin naman natin malalaman kung hindi dahil sa lehitimong media," he said at the briefing

[Translation: The past administration's 'wait a minute' strategy, the pork barrel corruption that proves the previous administration was so incompetent… We wouldn't have felt that without legitimate media.]

"The people would not have supported President Duterte if the media did not publicize the kapalpakan [incompetence] of the previous administration," he added.

Roque also surprised Palace reporters Monday, as they found pandesal (bread) on the chairs inside Malacanang's briefing room.

"We do not throw things at journalists. I guess that's why there's pandesal," he said.

Over the weekend, Roque in a tweet told Duterte supporters not to throw anything at legitimate media and instead give them "hot pandesal." This, after Roque earlier said he would throw hollow blocks at those who badmouth the President.

Roque later clarified he was not addressing himself to journalists at that time, but to Uson and her 5 million followers online. He said he wanted to assure Uson's followers he has the president's back.

In response, Uson said she did not attack all media outlets-- she said she only called several stations and newspapers out for spreading  "fake news."

"Una po sa lahat hindi ko po inaatake ang pangkalahatang media... At hindi ko po inaatake ang kanilang pagkatao na tulad ng ginagawa nila sa akin. Ang atin lamang pong inaatake ay kanilang mga FAKE NEWS," Uson said.

[Translation: First of all, I don't attack all media… And I don't attack their personhood like they do with me. I only attack their fake news.]

She also said members of the Duterte Diehard Supporters (DDS) have minds of their own. She said it would be better if both media and netizens were reminded to respect each other.

"May opinion ang media at may opinion din ang mga netizens. Galangin natin ng pareho at patas. Salamat po," she added.

[Translation: Both members of the media and netizens have their own opinions. Let's respect them both and treat them fairly. Thanks.]

Meanwhile, RJ Nieto, owner of the "Thinking Pinoy" blog, said Roque cannot dictate on the President's supporters.

"Wala kang kakayahang utusan ang mga supporter ng pangulo. Kahit si MOCHA USON BLOG, For the Motherland - Sass Rogando Sasot, at ThinkingPinoy, wala. May sariling isip ang mga yan," Nieto posted on Facebook.

[Translation: You cannot dictate on the President's supporters - whether it is Mocha Uson Blog (owned by Asec. Uson), For the Motherland - Sass Rogando Sasot, and Thinking Pinoy. They can make up their own minds.]

He added it was a mistake to appoint Roque, and asked the new spokesperson to step down.

"Alam namin na hindi perpekto si Mayor. Minsan talaga e nagkakamali yan. Halimbawa, nagkamali siyang i-appoint ka," Nieto said, referring to Duterte.

[Translation: We know the Mayor (Duterte) is not perfect. He makes mistakes. Case in point, your appointment.]