Inquirer axes 'pro-Arroyo' columnist

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 17 2010 11:31 PM | Updated as of Jun 18 2010 10:18 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The country's largest broadsheet newspaper confirmed on Thursday that one of its long-time opinion writers will no longer be writing a column for the paper.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) said Belinda Olivares-Cunanan wrote her last column on Thursday.

"We confirm that Ms. Bel Cunanan ended her column 'Political Tidbits' today. The Inquirer thanks Ms. Cunanan for her contribution and dedicated service," said Isagani Yambot, PDI publisher.

Cunanan has long been a defender of the outgoing Arroyo administration.

In her last column on June 17, Cunanan denied resigning from the PDI, a publication she has been affiliated with for the last 25 years.

Cunanan said she received a letter from Yambot last June 2.

The letter stated that the newspaper's management had accepted her resignation, which she made known "last March, in a meeting" prior to the May 2010 elections.

The meeting was between her, Yambot, and opinion editor Jorge Aruta to "thresh out guidelines for the coverage of the recent elections."

Cunanan recalled that during the meeting, she was taken as "too partisan against one candidate, raising a number of issues against him."

The alleged "resignation" was effective on June 17. 

"I never resigned nor did I made such announcement at that meeting," Cunanan said.

"After 25 years of continuous service in this newspaper and as a co-founder of sorts and original stockholder, I would have been more formal about my intention and put it down on writing," she said.

Cunanan's husband, retired general Thelmo Cunanan, is one of the beneficiaries of President Arroyo's so-called "midnight appointments."

He was appointed chairman of the Social Security System (SSS) on March 5, 2010, five days before the appointment ban during an election period took effect.

Mrs. Arroyo also appointed him president of the Philippine National Oil Co. in 2001.

In his June 9 column "Cocktales: Reading between the (Head) Lines," former PDI columnist Victor Agustin said: "The señoras of the Philippine Daily Inquirer have decided they have had enough of the pro-Gloria Arroyo columnist Belinda Olivares-Cunanan, and on Monday dispatched their publisher, Marcos-era press attaché Isagani Yambot, to execute their command."