• The President hosted an after-SONA for select members of the press
  • He informally talked with them, said they can criticize him if they have to because it’s their job
  • He also said he is willing to grant a monthly press conference with the media

MANILA, Philippines – In a sign tensions between President Rodrigo Duterte and the media may be coming to an end, the Chief Executive brought four members of the media who have been covering him since Day 1 of his election campaign to an after-SONA dinner.

Invited as guests of the president were Rappler’s Pia Ranada Robles, TV5’s Mia Reyes, CNN Philippines’ Ina Andolong, ABS-CBN’s Doris Bigornia, and GMA-7’s Ian Cruz and Cedric Castillo.

Over dinner, Duterte held informal talks with the journalists. According to a tweet by Castillo, the president told them they could criticize if they must as part of their job.

“If you should criticize me, do it. It’s your job,” the president reportedly told his guests.

Once-a-month Press Conferences?

On the other hand, Robles said Duterte is open to the idea of granting interviews with the press once a month — a stark contrast to his earlier vow not to grant interviews until the end of his term.

“Let’s look for an available time, once every month,” he said.

At the same time, Duterte explained that media coverage is not on his list of priorities since he has lots to things to do as president anyway.

“You know, it’s like this. I’m not running after anything because I’m already here,” he said. “I find it corny. I’m not running after anything. So even with or without media, for me, I do not need it.”

On the lighter side, a vintage Duterte could not help cracking jokes and anecdotes with his guests; saying he had become impotent because of the heavy workload he was facing.

“Son of a —–, my problems are so heavy that I have become impotent,” he said; drawing laughs from his audience.