Kabayan Noli was just a perfect example
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2012-07-29

Many folks were surprised by that scathing speech of President Noynoy Aquino (P-Noy) at the TV Patrol 25th Anniversary Party last July 27, which was held at the Manila Hotel. P-Noy didn’t hold his punches when he made Kabayan Noli de Castro an example of counterproductive inaccurate reporting and negativism.

Indeed, it was untypical for a guest of honor to a special event to criticize the very TV program that is being feted as well as its long time anchor, former senator and vice president Noli de Castro. P-Noy took Noli to task on three issues. There was the side comment comparing NAIA III with NAIA I, the speculation that there was something irregular in a successful hostage retrieval operation and the third example was the negative remark posed through a question on reported good news about transport costs.

One thing about P-Noy is that he knows how to score a haymaker of a punch. P-Noy bored down on the vulnerability of de Castro. He cited Noli for having done nothing when he was a vice president for 6 years and yet could now presume to have the high ground on various issues. “Minana lang namin ito sa inyo (We just inherited these from you)” was specially stinging coming from P-Noy and coming right after the delivery of the SONA (State of the Nation Address) where many were impressed by the 25-month track record of P-Noy.

Reactions online were mostly favorable. People agree that our media, especially broadcast media, should improve their editorial policies. Many of those with negative opinions about the stinging speech centered on whether that was the right occasion to do it. In other words, it wasn’t the content but the forum that they found objectionable.

I have to disagree with them about whether that was the right forum and occasion to do it. On the contrary, it was the perfect forum and occasion to do it if P-Noy wanted to take to task a media entity that could unjustly jeopardize the achievements of his administration. It was the perfect forum because ABS-CBN Chairman Gabby Lopez and News Boss Jing Reyes were there.

My having been a vocal critic of the way primetime TV newscasts have gone the route of tabloids, Gabby Lopez once invited me for lunch at their restaurant in ABS-CBN. My wife Meyang, Jing Reyes and ABS-CBN Corporate Communications Head Bong Osorio were there with us. That was when TV Patrol was newly reformatted and Noli, Korina Sanchez and Ted Failon were reinstated as the new anchors. TV Patrol had been losing out to 24 Oras, prompting the TV Patrol revamp.

I shared with Gabby and Jing my observations about the level of discourse in TV Patrol. It must be noted that TV Patrol and 24 Oras were the highest rating TV primetime newscasts and that close to 90 percent of Filipinos rely on these news programs as their main sources of news and information. I also expressed discomfort with how the news anchors were doing editorials — a no-no in journalism.

Noli de Castro can speculate all he wants in his DZMM radio program, which isn’t a newscast but a commentary. There’s no place for his personal opinion, especially when that’s sheer speculation, on TV Patrol. News is an important public service that’s there to enlighten the citizenry and help them make wise decisions based on updated facts and prevailing situations. Speculation in a news report misleads instead of leads a nation to progress.

“Judge and you shall be judged,” Christ preached in the Gospel. How would Noli feel if a 24 Oras anchor speculated if he played a role in the Delfin Lee controversy that happened under his watch as the Housing Czar during the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) regime? After all, if my Ateneo batch mate Serge Valencia was implicated in the PCSO (Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office) fund mess because he sat as Chairman when it happened — why should Noli be different when it comes to the Delfin Lee controversy?
When you compare the powers that Serge Valencia had in PCSO with the powers that Noli enjoyed as GMA’s Housing Czar, you get the impression that it’s harder for Noli to avoid blame for the Delfin Lee fund mess. At the PCSO, we now know from the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearings that then General Manager, Rosario Uriarte, had wielded the real power.

That was not the case in the housing agencies under Noli de Castro. As Housing Czar and Chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Council (HUDCC), Noli was also ex-officio Chairman of the following key shelter agencies: National Housing Authority (NHA), Home Development and Mutual Fund or Pag-IBIG Fund, National Home Mortgage and Finance Corporation (NHMFC), Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB). He is also the vice chairman of the Board of Directors (Ex-officio), Home Guaranty Corporation (HGC).

The broadside against de Castro didn’t seem to have registered with ABS-CBN. During their newscast later that evening, they carried the comment that was obviously addressed to P-Noy, “Wag pikon (Don’t be short tempered).” Are they just too stupid to have missed the point being made — how their brand of news reporting could bring down the country — or are they really that arrogant now?

Noli de Castro was not just an isolated case insofar as P-Noy is concerned. Noli just happened to present the perfect example of what P-Noy wanted to communicate — how irresponsible media reporting can bring our country down.

Sometime back, Karen Davila announced on her afternoon program on DZMM-Teleradyo that P-Noy was out dating during working hours. Coming at the heels of the “Noynoying” tag by the Reds, that was especially stinging for P-Noy. The truth was that P-Noy was in a long economic cluster meeting, which was something Davila could have easily checked with their Palace reporter. She did no such thing and bought hook, line and sinker the tweet of Edu Manzano.

Edu had apologized for making that wild and untruthful claim. I’m not aware if Davila had also apologized for her wild reporting.

* * *

Shakespeare: “Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.”

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Election lawyer: PCOS critics should put up or shut up

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A great disservice to P-Noy

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