President Rodrigo Duterte entertained the reporters’ questions for the first time in Malacañang on Monday, August 1, ending the media boycott he declared in June.
After leading the oath-taking of his appointees, Duterte took the media by surprise when he suddenly stepped off the stage at Rizal Hall and declared himself ready for questions from the press. According to Rappler, the reporters immediately crowded around the President.
Duterte answered questions about contractualization and Environment Secretary Gina Lopez to the peace process.
Duterte stopped giving interviews to the media on June 2, Rappler recalled, when he was asked about the wolf-whistling issue involving GMA-7 reporter Mariz Umali and about the international media’s calls for Philippine media to boycott the President’s press conferences.
On June 4, Duterte’s executive assistant Bong Go sent a text message to the media, relaying the President’s intent to boycott the press.
“Kung ayaw niyo daw mag-boycott sa kanya, siya daw mag-boycott sa inyo. Anyway, mayor pa naman siya at si PNoy ang pres,” Go said in a text.
Days after that announcement, Dutere would often talk about his media boycott, even declaring that he would not take any questions from reporters until the end of his term.
But on Monday, Duterte was back to his usual self around the media, making policy statements but not forgetting to deliver jokes here and there.
The impromptu press briefing lasted for 30 minutes, with the President not seemingly ready to end his talk with the media, Rappler noted. It was only after the reporters said “thank you” twice that Duterte wrapped the conference up.
Before this apparent end to his boycott of private media, journalists were able to get closer to Duterte when he visited the wake of the CAFGU member killed in Davao del Norte after an NPA attack on July 27.
After his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 25, Duterte also invited few select journalists to dinner.
Here is Rappler’s Facebook live video of Duterte’s 30-minute press conference: