Vietnam media told: No story about Duterte drug war before visit

'GOOD ATMOSPHERE.' President Rodrigo Duterte shakes hands with Vietnamese officials beside Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang at the State Palace in Hanoi on September 29, 2016. Photo by KING RODRIGUEZ/ Presidential Photo

'GOOD ATMOSPHERE.' President Rodrigo Duterte shakes hands with Vietnamese officials beside Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang at the State Palace in Hanoi on September 29, 2016.

Photo by KING RODRIGUEZ/ Presidential Photo

By now, we all know how President Rodrigo Duterte reacts to criticism of his drug war, especially if the critics are foreigners.

Could this be what was on the mind of Vietnamese government officials when they asked some of their media companies to refrain from writing about Duterte's controversial campaign prior to his official visit from September 28 to 29?

Before the Philippine President landed in Hanoi, Vietnamese "government officials" had a meeting with "several" local media groups to bring up a "guideline" that they should not say "bad things" about Duterte in their articles.

The reminder was couched in soft terms, without any threats or outright antagonism. Vietnamese journalists were just told their government wants a "good atmosphere" for Duterte's visit.

One source put the guideline this way: "Before you come to my house, my children should not criticize you."

Apparently, similar instructions are usually given before any visit of a foreign dignitary. In Vietnam, state censorship of media is rife, according to freedom of expression watchdog Freedom House. The Communist Party of Vietnam controls even private local media and sets guidelines for their content.

But with Duterte's infamously short fuse, it wouldn't be surprising if there was a new sense of urgency in giving out this guideline.

Judging from Duterte's remarks upon arriving from his Vietnam trip, he seemed to think the visit went fairly well.

He described it as "productive" and in line with his determination to pursue an independent foreign policy by collaborating with "friendly nations on the basis of sovereign equality, non-interference, and the mutual respect to protect our national interests."

Did Vietnam government officials breathe a sigh of relief? – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

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 pia.ranada@rappler.com.

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