MMDA official jokes about shooting 'negative' journalists

MANILA, Philippines – Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Assistant General Manager Jojo Garcia is in hot water after joking that journalists who write "negative" reports about the MMDA should be shot.

Garcia was preparing to hold a press briefing at the office of MMDA chairman Danilo Lim on Wednesday, December 6, when he cracked the joke. He mentioned some negative reports on the MMDA, but did not elaborate.

He said those behind the negative reports should become targets of the Philippine National Police (PNP)'s controversial Oplan Tokhang, where some suspects end up shot dead by police.

Reporters asked Garcia who these "negative" reporters were, but Garcia declined to name names, and just continued with his joke. He said he wanted to bring out his "45-[calibre]" gun.

Reporters were not able to record his pronouncements since the briefing had not begun when he made the statements. Reporters from the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Philippine Star, Manila Bulletin, Philippine News Agency,  TV5, and Rappler were at the briefing.

The jokes prompted one journalist to report the incident to Undersecretary Joel Egco, Executive Director of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security.

Egco wrote about the incident in a Facebook post, and slammed it as a "horrible joke."

“A reporter I have known for years brought this to my attention. Before I publicly call on the official and lecture him on [Administrative] Order No. 1, or 'red flag' him for such a horrible joke, I'd like to ask other reporters who were there to verify via PM (private message) to me. [M]y informant claimed they felt the chill,” he said in his post.

With journalist killings as a perennial problem in the country, Egco pointed out that the joke made by the official was "worse than a bomb joke."

"Even President Duterte does not do that, Sir. Just do your job," Egco said.

Before he assumed the presidency, however, Duterte was criticized for saying that some journalists deserve to be killed because they are supposedly corrupt. Media groups and human rights watchdogs slammed Duterte for justifying media killings in the Philippines. (READ: Duterte on killings: Corrupt journalists asked for it)

Garcia has yet to reply to requests for comment on Egco's statement, and criticism of his joke. –

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers security, crime, and the city of Manila for Rappler. He was chosen as a Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.