MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang has clarified that the scolding spree of President Benigno Aquino III that happened during the 25th anniversary celebration of "TV Patrol" last Friday was not solely for ABS-CBN but for all mediamen.
This is what Presidential Communications Group Secretary Sonny Coloma said during his interview with radio dzMM on Sunday.
Coloma said the President’s speech last Friday had the same theme when he spoke before a news organization in the past, as well as when he addressed the Philippine Press Institute.
"Kung titingnan po natin 'yung dalawang mensahe po niya dun [ay] iisa lang ang tema: tinatawagan ang mga kagawad ng media na maging balanse sa kanilang pag-uulat, maging makatotohanan dahil iyan po ang inaasahan ng ating mga mamamayan,” Coloma said.
"Kung magbabalik-tanaw tayo, 'yan din ang mensahe ng Pangulo sa Philippine Press Institute na taga-pagpatnubay ng media sa pagsunod sa mga alituntunin o standards ng journalism," he added.
Coloma maintained the President is open to any criticism but he insisted that there should be balance and responsible journalism.
"Sa kabuuan, ang amin pong hinihingi ay patas na report, makatotohanan at wala po kaming hinahangad na gumawa ng prior restraint dahil iginagalang po natin ang kalayaan sa pamamahayag," he said.
Coloma said the media should be an instrument to further improve the lives of Filipnos through broadcasting good news so as to boost the country’s tourism efforts.
"Pinupunto lang ng Pangulo, maaaring maging instrumento sa pagbabago 'yung mass media sa pamamagitan ng pagbibigay din ng mabuting balita, positibong mensahe, na siyang mag-e-encourage din sa ating mga kababayan," he said.
"Kapag kasinungalingan, maaari pong malinlang ang ating mamamayan, disencouragement sa mga turistang nagbabalak na magpunta dito. Sayang naman, malaki ang tulong ng tourism industry sa ating kabuhayan," Coloma added.
Coloma also said the President respects the freedom of the press but said it would be best for everyone if the media will be more responsible.
"Ganun na lang po naman ang pagsisikap na patatagin ang institusyon ng demokrasya katulad din ng freedom of the press at tatatag pa ito kapag responsable po ang paggamit nito," he said.
Last Friday, Aquino criticized "TV Patrol" anchor Noli de Castro for his negative comments to positive government news he occasionally makes during the banter portion at the end of the daily news programs.
"Kung alam mo na opinion-maker ka, alam mo rin dapat na may responsibilidad ka. Sana po sa tuwing sinasabi nating magandang gabi bayan, sana totoong hinahangad natin na maging maganda ang gabi ng bayan," the President said.
Aquino also vented his frustrations over de Castro’s negative extemporaneous comments and he even cited several examples.
In response to Aquino's comments, Ging Reyes, head of ABS-CBN's News and Current Affairs Division, said: "Criticism is not a monopoly of journalists and media practitioners. The President had as much right to free speech as every citizen."
"But the focus of Friday's celebration was TV Patrol's 25 years -- the people behind the stories, the unsung heroes behind the cameras and unforgettable events that shaped history. We did not just remember the disasters, anomalies and political upheavals that TV Patrol covered. We also celebrated stories of remarkable achievers and everyday heroes, whose triumphs over adversity is a testament to the resiliency of the Filipino spirit," she added.