MPC pool photo
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte employed his own sense of humor when asking reporters to step out of his bilateral meeting with United States President Donald Trump Monday, November 13.
Duterte, who previously claimed the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) wants to destabilize his government, called the journalists present "spies."
"We would be talking on matters that [are] of interest [to] both the Philippines and [US]. With you around, guys, you are the spies," said Duterte.
At this last part, Trump laughed.
Before Duterte made the remark, a female American reporter asked Trump if he would raise human rights violations during the meeting.
Instead of waiting for Trump to respond, Duterte told the media, "We are not answering any [questions]. We’re having a bilateral meeting. Maybe the press conference would follow."
After this, Malacañang protocol and media relations ushered the reporters out of the room.
Duterte is known to have a complicated relationship with media – hurling threats and insults at them on the podium one day then treating them to dinner in Malacañang the next.
He has claimed that Rappler is CIA-funded and that the US' intelligence agency wants him "out of government."
At the ASEAN-US Summit held later that day, Duterte was more casual in his usual remarks asking cameramen to leave the room so the leaders can talk candidly.
"I would like to request media to leave us alone," he said. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.