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Less than a day after he became president-elect, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Thursday, May 26, sat down with three select reporters in what was dubbed a press conference.
The reporters belonged to the Apollo Quiboloy-owned SMNI, the Iglesia ni Cristo-controlled NET25, and GMA News. The owners of SMNI and NET25 endorsed his 2022 presidential run.
SMNI sent its mainstay Marcos amplifier, MJ Mondejar; NET25 fielded anchor Eden Santos; while GMA News deployed television reporter Ivan Mayrina.
Other reporters and newsrooms only became aware of the press conference when it was announced on Marcos’ official Facebook page. It appeared to have been held in his campaign headquarters along EDSA.
The interview was moderated by lawyer and vlogger Trixie Cruz-Angeles, whom the incoming Marcos administration is set to appoint as the chief of the Presidential Communications Operations Office.
The three reporters asked Marcos about his intended Cabinet appointees and his plans to uplift the country’s economy as the pandemic reaches a plateau.
NET25’s Eden Santos asked how Marcos could fulfill his campaign promise of reducing the cost of rice to P20 per kilogram – a sharp drop from the prevailing market price of above P30. Experts have said it was impossible to slash that much in rice prices.
Why did Marcos exclude the rest of the Filipino journalists covering him? Incoming executive secretary Vic Rodriguez said the limited press conference was a result of a request by the three media outlets to have their respective one-on-one interviews as soon as Marcos won.
Marcos, the son of the ousted dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos, was proclaimed Wednesday, May 25, as president-elect by Congress, convening as the National Board of Canvassers (NBOC). As provided by Section 4, Article VII of the Constitution says Marcos and vice president-elect Sara Duterte shall officially take office noon of June 30.
“This is the commitment that our media team made to these three networks that if candidate Bongbong Marcos won, they could be granted a one-on-one interview. We want to be fair and we did them it in one go,” Rodriguez said.
Instead of a three-on-one interview, however, the briefing was structured like a conference moderated by Angeles. SMNI even broadcast the interview live with the title “President-elect Bongbong Marcos Press conference,” complete with graphics that labeled it as a “press conference.”
“It is not the policy of the incoming Marcos administration to exclude you, our dear friends from the media,” Rodriguez said.
That was the policy during the campaign though, when the Marcos camp repeatedly kept reporters in the dark about his schedule, refused to answer questions in chance interviews, and ignored all presidential debates jointly organized by the Commission on Elections and independent journalists.
Will such restrictions continue under his presidency? Thursday’s “press conference” does not inspire hope. – Rappler.com