At the wrong venue, at the wrong time

I woke up today to news reports of what President Aquino did at the 25th anniversary celebration of ABS-CBN’s TV Patrol. And based on what I read, the President did not mince words in letting his sentiments towards news anchor and former Vice President Noli de Castro’s comments on what the administration has been doing since it took over.

Before I go further, I would like to disclose that I used to work for that network and I used to contribute stories for that program. But I have to be honest, I also felt then that de Castro’s come back, right after the Arroyo administration stepped down from office, was something which might cause problems for the program and the network in the coming years.

As a former journalist, I think de Castro should have gone on a hiatus from public life right after his term as Vice President expired. And considering how hot on the heels of the Arroyo administraion Aquino was (or still is?), it is possible that his presence on the program will be viewed through political lenses or his involvement with the preceding administration would be investigated, resulting to some ethical questions of his presence in the news program.

But both remained ideas I had in my mind until I read Aquino’s words last night.

Aquino attacked de Castro at the wrong venue and at the wrong time. That occassion was a celebration of the years of service by one of the country’s longest running news programs. It was a gathering of generations of media professionals whose dedication to their craft and their passion for the truth, fueled a program which has spawned the careers of several of the country’s big names in journalism and public service.

And the President’s attack could no more be at a worse time than in the same week when he delivered his third State of the Nation Address, which I admit was in some way inspiring, but also full of holes from figures which don’t seem to add up; when former President now Pampanga Representative Gloria Arroyo was released on bail; when the People’s Republic of China inaugurated a city on our own backyard (seayard?); and when the Sandiganbayan remands the cases against Arroyo back to the Ombudsman. What a way to cap the week Mr. President!

I don’t know what Mr. Aquino must have had before taking to the podium last night. But I think he and his advisers should be more mindful of the things he lets go in public. It is already 2012. And unlike the year when he took office, his popularity is already fast eroding due to unfulfilled promises he made to get himself elected.

The things that happened this week have some serious implications on what might happen not only for the next nine months when Aquino’s allies try to run for posts in Congress and the local government units, but also in the next three years of his term.

Arroyo’s release is a big black eye on his supposed anti-graft campaign. And although he may have gotten rid of Chief Justice Renato Corona, the very person, whose arrest then became a testimony to his administration’s supposed commitment to fight graft, is already out of jail. I wonder then how foreign investors, whose confidence were earned when Arroyo was arrested, feel now that the Moled One is back.

Perhaps if the President would have worded his pains against de Castro in a more amiable manner, in a tone more considerate of the occassion and the audience at the event, his remarks would have not pierced not only de Castro’s heart but also everyone else’s who were there.

De Castro may have been harsh on the Aquino administration in his commentaries, but I guess the President has forgotten that it is the incumbent function of the media to be critical of government, more particularly the administration. It is the solemn duty of journalists to read between the lines, see behind the picture and consider with cynicism, all the beautiful words, big smiles and glorious ideas which come from the halls of power.

Oh, in case you’re interested, @I_amHolo did a fine rewording of Mr. Aquino’s speech at the TV Patrol 25th anniversary. And also, Corona impeachment trial private prosecutor Edsel Tupaz and Country Solutions CEO Daniel Wagner wrote an interesting piece on the implications of Arroyo’s release.

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