UK envoy on Abella tirades: Don't read headlines only

MANILA, Philippines – British Ambassador to the Philippines Asif Ahmad advised President Rodrigo Duterte's spokesman to read news reports in full, and not just the headlines.

Ahmad made the statement after Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella criticized him for his recent statements about the Philippine government.

In a tweet, Ahmad, who speaks basic Filipino, said on Thursday February 23, "Dapat nagbasa kayo ano ang nagsabi ako,di yun headline ng editor ng diyaryo lang (You should have read what I said, not the headlines of newspaper editors only)."

The British ambassador was replying to a tweet by radio station DWIZ, about Abella's response to his recent remarks.

Ahmad, for one, criticized the Duterte administration's plan to revive the death penalty, according to the Philippine Star

The Philippine Star titled its article, "Change has come, but not in a good way," and enclosed these words in single quotation marks. Nowhere in the Philippine Star's online story, however, can this quote be found.

Reacting to this article title, Abella said that Ahmad's remark "that 'change has come in the Philippines but not in a good way' does not reflect the true sentiment of the common Filipino."

"One wishes diplomats were more familiar with life beyond the rarefied atmosphere of gated villages," Abella said in a statement.

As early as November 2016, Ahmad has criticized moves to revive capital punishment in the Philippines, pointing out that "it was because of the imposition of the death penalty" that the Philippines lost its national hero, Dr Jose Rizal. –

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

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