MANILA, Philippines – Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano defended the bloggers who joined the government's official delegation when he recently spoke at the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in New York.
Pro-Duterte blogger Rey Joseph Nieto, also known as Thinking Pinoy, was among those who flew to New York using taxpayers' money.
Cayetano confirmed that the government used public funds to shoulder Nieto's airfare and allowances in New York.
"Why were the bloggers part of the official delegation?" a reporter asked Cayetano in an interview on Thursday, October 19.
Cayetano shot back at reporters, "I think the bigger question is, why weren't you guys with me? It was a major policy speech."
"Kung wala ang bloggers, paano 'yung coverage namin?" (Without the bloggers, how will our coverage be?)
Cayetano's speech aired live
Despite Cayetano's claim, major news outlets in the Philippines and around the world covered his speech at the UN, where he defended President Rodrigo Duterte's bloody anti-drug campaign.
It was livestreamed, too, on the official YouTube page of the UN, along with the speeches of his counterparts in other countries.
On September 24, government-run RTVM also uploaded on YouTube the full video of Cayetano's 28-minute speech.
On the same day, the Office of Public Diplomacy of the Department of Foreign Affairs sent reporters a copy of his speech, which was also posted on the DFA's website.
At the same time, the Presidential Photographers' Division of Malacañang emailed high-resolution photos of Cayetano at the UN.
While not physically in New York, journalists based in the Philippines covered Cayetano's speech not through government-funded bloggers but through official channels, the normal practice when monitoring officials overseas.
Journalists accessed these materials in real time, and for free. – Rappler.com
Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org