The Philippine president-elect said Tuesday that many journalists have been killed in the country because they were involved in corrupt deals and turned against people who had paid them off.
Rodrigo Duterte didn’t cite any evidence or provide any details for his allegations, but said he knew of one radio commentator who was killed in Davao city because he was “rotten.”
When he was asked to comment on the unsolved murders of journalists in the Philippines, Duterte said many of those killed were paid to take sides on issues or had overly criticized people who couldn’t tolerate personal attacks.
"Just because you're a journalist (doesn't mean) you're exempted from assassination if you're a son of a bitch," Duterte said. "Your freedom of expression cannot help you if you have done something wrong with the guy."
Duterte was elaborating on his campaign pledge to eradicate crime and corruption in the country within six months during a televised news conference. He told the news conference that the anti-drug crackdown is starting "now."
The former 71-year-old prosecutor won the election overwhelmingly with his stance to fight crime and pay police or military officials a bounty to capture suspected drug lords “dead or alive.” However, he journalist comments drew some heat.
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines immediately condemned Duterte's remarks.
"Mr. Duterte's crass pronouncement not only sullies the names and memories of all 176 of our colleagues who have been murdered since 1986," the media group said. "He has also, in effect, declared open season to silence the media."
Duterte’s six-year term starts June 30.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.