A YouTube channel supportive of President Rodrigo Duterte has targeted the media, more particularly a Philstar.com reporter, over reporting of the president’s comment that there are 167 million drug users in the Philippines.

“Pinoy Streamline” took exception to the media’s coverage of Duterte’s erroneous comment on his weekly late-night address. Malacañang has since attributed the mistake to a typographical error.

While the video attacks the media in general, it singles out Pilipino Star Ngayon reporter James Relativo. Even though Relativo mentioned that Duterte’s “167 million” comment was a gaffe, “Pinoy Streamline” still took exception to the reporter’s citing of other instances where Duterte used drug number estimates not supported by data from the Dangerous Drug Board (DDB).

Relativo cited an instance in 2017 where Duterte said that there were 4 million drug addicts in the Philippines when the DDB’s figure n 2016 show only that there are 1.8 million users.  This figure, the DDB said, does not mean all 1.8 million are addicts.

He also wrote that, in 2019, Duterte said there were 8 million drug users in the country, estimates that the Philippine National Police, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, and the National Bureau of Investigation said “had basis”.  

The YouTube video did not dispute his reporting but instead shared his photo as well as his personal details like his educational background, which violate his right to privacy.

The NUJP chapter of Philstar.com said in a statement that Relativo’s article mentioning Duterte’s past estimates is “relevant” in the context of the president’s “167 million” comment.

The journalists’ group also acknowledged that “bringing the news carries the risk of being criticized.”

“This kind of targeting is a matter of concern, however, since other instances have led to outright harassment of colleagues and media workers in the past,” it said.

The chapter added that they will be “vigilant against similar threats against its members and to colleagues” and “not allow this incident to keep us from reporting on the government, its policies, and their effects on the daily lives of our readers and of the Filipino people.”  Rommel F. Lopez