President Benigno Aquino III graced the 25th anniversary celebration of TV Patrol at the Manila Hotel on Friday, July 27, but the bulk of his speech was not focused on ABS-CBN’s flagship primetime newscast.
Aquino was more concerned on criticizing former Vice President Noli “Kabayan” De Castro during the celebration. De Castro anchored the newscast since its creation in 1987 then left from 2001-2010 when he entered politics. De Castro started his career as a broadcast journalist. He became senator in 2001, and was the vice president of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo from 2004 to 2010. After his stint in politics, De Castro returned to media, reclaiming his spot as the top anchor of TV Patrol.
The President minced no words even if De Castro, known as Kabayan, was also present in the event. He criticized De Castro in front of ABS-CBN executives including chairman and CEO Gabby Lopez, some Cabinet officials, and ABS-CBN employees.
Aquino started his speech by congratulating TV Patrol, commending its growth from the Radyo Patrol days of his youth.
“And here we are today, celebrating the silver anniversary of one of the strongest institutions in broadcasting: TV Patrol,” Aquino said in Filipino.
The President then talked about the gains under his administration. Yet he went on by critiquing the news reporting of the show and citing instances when he said De Castro voiced “raw opinion and speculation.”
In the second half of his speech, Aquino reiterated his call for media to be balanced in reporting, and stop what he called “daily negativism.”
The President said media plays a major role in presenting an image of the Philippines to foreigners and Filipinos overseas. Aquino even compared the news to a horror film series.
After minutes of awkward silence from the audience, Aquino capped his speech by asking for understanding.
In response to Aquino’s comments, Ging Reyes, head of ABS-CBN’s News and Current Affairs Division (NCAD), 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.