Philippines’ president-elect Rodrigo Duterte said journalists killed on the job in the country were often corrupt.
“Just because you’re a journalist you are not exempted from assassination,” Duterte said while speaking at a press conference to unveil his new cabinet on Tuesday.
“Freedom of expression cannot help you if you have done something wrong,” he added.
His comments were a response to a question about how to protect press freedom after a crime reporter was shot dead in Manila on May 27, CNN reported.
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) was quick to blast the leader for his “appalling” comments.
“Nothing justifies the murder of journalists,” NUJP chair Ryan Rosuaro said in a statement.
The Philippines is one of the world’s most dangerous countries for journalists.
The Committee to Protect Journalists, an independent press freedom organisation, said 77 journalists have died in Philippines since 1992.
The NUJP claims 176 of their colleagues have been murdered since 1986.
Duterte’s outrageous comments are the latest in a campaign to fight corruption and threaten criminals.
He previously declared that he will be a “dictator” against evil, and vowed to step down in six months if he failed to fulfil his promise to stamp out corruption.