Aquino prays for columnists, says media still a headache

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'If we don't make a controversy or issue, it's as if our media is boring,' says the President

PRAYERS FOR COLUMNISTS. President Aquino at a media forum on December 2. Photo by the Malacañang Photo Bureau

MANILA, Philippines – He’s been president for 3 years now, but President Benigno Aquino III says he still doesn’t get it why the news media continues to criticize him.

And so he prays for them – the columnists, at least.

In a speech at a media forum on Tuesday, December 2, Aquino once again slammed the media for focusing on the negative aspects of a crisis, citing as positive examples of government work the heroism of soldiers in Zamboanga City during the bloody September siege and the departments’ relief efforts following Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).

“It makes me think: often [the good things] are forgotten, especially when we read the newspapers and listen to the radio, watch TV… I guess it’s really that way… if we don’t make a controversy or issue, it’s as if our media is boring,” he said.

He said he often prays for “columnists who have never said anything nice about me.” The President did not name names.

“I’ve appealed, I’ve complained. I’ve given time, for instance, especially to media… So I’ve prayed for them also. And I mean that not in jest, I really have prayed for enlightenment for a lot of these people. The message simply was what you put down affects the lives of people. And are you confident that what you put down helped them?”

The President said he cared little about the numbers, as long as he’s doing “what is right.” His satisfaction ratings have dropped in the last few months, from 64% in June to 49% in the third quarter of 2013.

The President shared what he does on particularly difficult days.

“I also have a mantra. On those days that I really don’t want to get out of bed, especially before they bring in the papers and you’re looking for good news, our mantra — many have adopted it – is ‘para sa bayan’ (for the nation),” he said.

“Because if you back away from it, if you let it defeat you, then it’s like turning your back on the country… Bottom line, everything we do affects so many people, and there is no time like the present, preferably, to have done things in the past already. Because at the end of the day, all of this is para sa bayan and the bayan has faces. There are people that are directly affected by our acts and by our missions.”


The President has been vocal about his unhappiness with the Philippine media.

In July last year, as special guest of media giant ABS-CBN during the 25th anniversary celebration of TV Patrol, Aquino slammed the newscast’s main anchor, former Vice President Noli De Castro. He used the occasion to criticize De Castro for supposed baseless speculation, and commentaries against the administration despite his own stint in government. (READ: Aquino slams in Kabayan in TV Patrol event)

Previous to this, the President also criticized the media for inaccurate and negative reports, when he was the guest speaker at a Philippine Press Institute’s event in April 2012.

But media criticism of the President and his administration has not been limited to the Philippines.

Days after Yolanda struck, CNN’s Anderson Cooper called out the Philippine government for the slow relief effort, saying it was unclear who is in charge. He described the condition in Tacloban City as a “miserable, miserable situation.” Tacloban is among the areas that bore the brunt of the typhoon.

ABS-CBN anchor Korina Sanchez reacted negatively to Cooper’s reporting, and said over her DZMM radio program that Cooper didn’t know what he was talking about.

Sanchez is married to Aquino’s friend, party mate, and close adviser, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas. –


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