The Philippines’ new anti-press president will broadcast his inauguration on Facebook

Rodrigo Duterte, the incoming president of the Philippines, will allow nine selected national broadcasting companies and state-run media to attend his inauguration on June 30, 2016. However, he will be the first president to broadcast his inauguration on social media, using Facebook Live.

Duterte, who served as mayor of Davao City for seven terms, won the presidential election by a landslide in May. Some people call him Donald Trump of the east; others claim that they are not the same. Duterte has been in low-profile on social media since the beginning of June after stirring criticism for his insensitive comments about a crime reporter’s death.

According to Rappler.com, Facebook approached the incoming chief of presidential communication operation office(PCOO), Martin Andanar, and talked about live streaming this event for Duterte, who has more than 3 million followers on his official page. Facebook plans to extend the 90-minute limitation of live streaming to cover the whole event and provide technical assistance.

During the election, Duterte received most of his coverage and engagement on Facebook. Earlier this month, while responding to journalists’ questions after a crime reporter was shot dead in Manila, Duterte said that a reporter can’t expect to be protected if “he’s a son of a bitch,” and that he “deserved it.” Reporters Without Borders(RSF) made calls to boycott him until he apologized.

Although he changed his stance and added context to his comments, he decided not to grant interviews until the end of his term as mayor. “No interview, no criticism. No wrong statement, no nothing. I’ll shut up,” he said.

Press freedom has long been an issue in the Philippines. According to the World Press Freedom Index, the country ranked 138th and 141st in 2016 and 2015, respectively. The country also ranks number three in terms of number of journalists killed since 1992.

The Committee to Protect Journalists called the Philippines a place where journalists are killed with impunity. The RSF describes the Philippines as a place where journalists receive constant death threats.

Andanar, a television anchorman and the appointed head of PCOO, has a positive view on the relationship between the government and the press. “The fact that I’m here speaking with you means the president has given me the authority to speak to you freely with no filtering,” he said during an interview. In the future, he plans to publish a government tabloid, launch a news website and host a weekly television show with President Duterte. All departments will also update their websites and their social media more often.

The philosophy of using social media live streaming the inauguration shows that, “we will be as transparent as we can,” said Andanar in an interview with the Rappler.

Sarah N. Repucci, the director of the Freedom in the World and Freedom of the Press thinks that live streaming the inauguration doesn’t eliminate concern for limited means of dissemination. “Still, it is becoming increasingly common for leaders to use social media to control the messages that are reaching the public,” Repucci said.

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