Veteran journalist Marie Peña-Ruiz, 65

Nikko Dizon
Veteran journalist Marie Peña-Ruiz, 65
The longtime Radyo ng Bayan broadcaster and former Malacañang Press Corps president was the beloved 'chairman' to Palace reporters

MANILA, Philippines – Veteran journalist Marie Peña-Ruiz, former president of the Malacañang Press Corps, passed away on Saturday, March 21. She was 65.

Peña-Ruiz is survived by her husband, Rene; and daughter, Angeli.

Doctors listed Peña-Ruiz’s cause of death as dengue, according to close friends.

Peña-Ruiz spent over 20 years with the Philippine Broadcasting Service-Radyo ng Bayan (PBS-Radyo ng Bayan), covering the administrations of Fidel V. Ramos, Joseph Estrada, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and Benigno Simeon Aquino III.

She was designated as PBS senior news editor for the first two years of the presidency of Rodrigo Duterte, until she retired in 2018. 

Peña-Ruiz anchored the PBS radio show, Kaagapay ng Bayan-Radyo Pilipinas, which tackled different government policies and the pressing issues of the day.

Having covered the Palace for over two decades, Maria Pilar Rosario Rita Peña-Ruiz was recognized as an institution in the Malacañang beat. She was not just a colleague, but was a friend and “mother hen” to reporters, young and old.

She was a regular fixture in Palace briefings, as she moderated the news conferences of the spokespersons of Arroyo and Aquino.

After her retirement, Peña-Ruiz continued to keep in touch with her colleagues through social media. She also indulged herself watching Korean dramas.

Aquino’s spokesperson, Abi Valte, shared a brief but heartfelt remembrance of Peña-Ruiz:

“Six years tayong ganito. Tuesday at Thursday, tapos Radyo ng Bayan naman kapag Sabado. 

“Hindi naging madali ‘yung samahan nating dalawa. Madalas napagsasabihan mo ako kapag nagkakamali ako. Madalas, binibiro kitang Pulis Pangkalawakan – ‘pag may pasaway on either side, ikaw ang babaston.

“Ang hirap isulat, Chairman. Hindi ako makapagpaalam ng matino. Nakikiramay ako sa mga miyembro ng Malacanang Press Corps, sa pamilya ng Peña at Ruiz, lalo na kay Gel at Don Rene.”

(This was our schedule for 6 years: Tuesday and Thursday, then we had Radyo ng Bayan every Saturday. Ours wasn’t an easy relationship. You often called me out when I made mistakes. Often, I teased you as the ‘universal cop’ because you put everyone, on either side, in his place.)

(This is difficult to write, Chairman. I couldn’t give you a proper goodbye. My condolences to the Malacañang Press Corps, to the Peña and Ruiz families, especially to Gel and Don Rene.)

MODERATOR. Marie Peña-Ruiz moderates the weekly press conference of President Benigno Aquino's spokesperson, Abigail Valte. Photo courtesy of Abigail Valte

“Chairman” was the moniker Palace reporters gave Peña-Ruiz, even after her term as Malacañang Press Corps (MPC) president. She also served as MPC vice president for radio. In these capacities, she was a conduit between Palace officials and reporters when there were issues involving the coverage of Malacañang.  

Peña-Ruiz’s death took everyone by surprise.  Her former colleagues took to social media to mourn her death and condole with her family, and also to post tributes.

Former Aquino Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma described Peña-Ruiz as a “professional broadcaster and dedicated journalist.”

“She loved her work and did her best every day, encouraging others to always do better. I remember her for our weekly Sunday Q & A over Radyo ng Bayan, an institution she served with utmost dedication. In the Malacañang Press Corps where she served as President, she fostered a sense of cooperation which enabled everyone to raise their level of competence even in a highly competitive environment,” Coloma said.

“Let the MPC press room continue to be filled with Marie’s jovial spirit. Let’s all be fortified by her courage and devotion to duty as we endeavor to do our part in enabling our communities and country to prevail over this contagion,” Coloma added.  –


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Nikko Dizon

Nikko Dizon is a freelance journalist specializing in security and political reporting. She has extensively covered issues involving the military, the West Philippine Sea maritime dispute, human rights, and the peace process.