PNoy slams media anew, says ‘date’ report false alarm

President Aquino criticizes the media for 'negative' and 'misleading' news reports, pinpointing a false story on his supposed date

BE FAIR. President Aquino asks the media to be positive and balanced in a speech during the National Press Forum. Photo from Malacañang Photo Bureau

MANILA, Philippines – Why report on a supposed date when I was in an economic meeting?

President Benigno Aquino III put the spotlight on the media, scoring what he called misleading and negative reports including a story on his supposed date. He attacked the alleged crab mentality of the media. 

In a speech during the Philippine Press Institute’s National Press Forum, Aquino criticized journalists for painting a negative image of the Philippines and his administration. The forum was held at the Traders Hotel in Manila on Monday, April 23. Watch the speech here:

As an example, the bachelor president cited reports that he was spotted on a date with Korean TV host Grace Lee at The Promenade in Greenhills last March. The reports were based on a tweet by actor Edu Manzano.

Malacañang denied the report, saying Aquino was in a meeting with the board of the National Economic and Development Authority. 

In the forum, Aquino asked why a TV network he did not name aired the story without confirmation. He wondered if the network even bothered to ask its reporter, a member of the Malacañang Press Corps, to verify the report.

Aquino described the report as “kuryente” or a false alarm.

“Mukhang mas ganado silang bumanat muna, at nung nalaman nilang nakuryente sila, saka na lang sila humingi ng pasensya. May patutsada pang siguro raw ay magaan ang trabaho noong araw na iyon.” (It looks like they are more eager to attack, and when they found out it was a false alarm, that was only the time they apologized. They even made a barb that maybe my workload was light that day.)

Get it first, then sorry?

Aquino also questioned why Philippine media is supposedly fond of negative reports when foreign publications like Newsweek and Time even praise the country for taking a stand in territorial disputes, and for economic dynamism.

“I think we are the only country in the world that banners negative travel advisories in our own newspapers,” Aquino said in Filipino.

“Just think of the effect of this. I know someone who wanted to go in and out of the country but even that person thought twice about coming back because he said he reads nothing on the papers and sees nothing on The Filipino Channel but violence and crime.” 

Another example, he said, was the misleading reports on the visit of the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, this month.

Instead of focusing on the agreements the two countries signed, Aquino said a newspaper’s headline read “Qatar’s Emir cuts short state visit.”

“It’s as if they want to plant doubt,” Aquino said.

The President said that after the restoration of democracy in 1986, the media must check if it lived up to the principles of credibility, integrity, balance, and accuracy.

“Is the principle of ‘get it first, but get it right’ still there or has it been replaced by ‘get it first, make sure the story sells and if the information is wrong, just say sorry?’”

FALSE ALARM. President Aquino says reports about his supposed date with Grace Lee in Greenhills were nothing but a false alarm. File photo from Malacañang Photo Bureau

‘Media also does well’

Aquino clarified though that he is not asking the media to invent stories to make his government look good but just to balance its coverage.

He commended the media for working with the government in informing the public about tsunami warnings in the past, and the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism reports on the projects of the Department of Public Works and Highways.

“If we plant the seed of doubt, this will result in difficulty. But if we plant hope, we will reap prosperity.”

Known to be more accessible than his predecessors, Aquino has been credited by journalists for granting ambush interviews and holding press conferences.

He has had a love-hate relationship with the media though, criticizing journalists for intruding in his love life, and for supposed negativism and sensationalism. Yet on several occasions, it is Aquino who brings up his love life. (Read: PNoy’s Top Love Life Quips

Interestingly, Aquino’s rival, Chief Justice Renato Corona also complained about negative media reports in a media forum in Baguio City last week. –