ESCUDERO: NO QUARREL WITH ROD

MANILA, March 26, 2004
 
(STAR)
Sorsogon Rep. Francis Escudero denied yesterday reports that Koalisyon ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino media bureau chief Rod Reyes has resigned due to disagreements with him and other party leaders over the handling of the KNP’s media operations.

Escudero, spokesman for KNP standard-bearer Fernando Poe Jr., said reports that he had something to do with Reyes’ plan to resign were "unconfirmed and mere speculations."

"We don’t have problems with each other," he said.

Escudero, however, failed to mention whether he had been coordinating with Reyes on the handling of Poe’s media coverage.

KNP campaign manager Sen. Vicente Sotto III said reports that Reyes is quitting may have been triggered by some "misunderstanding."

Sotto said the KNP executive committee agreed last week to "consolidate the forces dealing with the media" to improve the media coverage on Poe and his campaign.

"Maybe there was some misinterpretation in how the consolidation was to be done," Sotto said without elaborating.

Reyes earlier said he is not resigning as KNP media bureau chief "at the moment."

Reyes issued a terse statement denying rumors that he resigned in disgust over alleged meddling by some KNP leaders in managing the media coverage for Poe.

He said rumors that he has quit the KNP media bureau "are obviously being spread by political opponents of FPJ (Poe)."

But Reyes pointed out his performance as bureau chief is being evaluated by the KNP executive committee. He said his service at the media bureau is "at (the) pleasure" of KNP leaders.

He admitted, however, the problem of media coverage for Poe but refused to elaborate.

Reyes only said the problems on media coverage for the actor are "par for the course."

Reyes, who was asked to join the KNP last December, admitted to The STAR he has previously contemplated giving it all up.

"In fairness to the other people concerned, I would like to keep the problems to myself," Reyes said. "I’d rather not talk about it right now."

Rumors began spreading that Reyes has resigned as early as middle of last month or shortly after the start of the electoral campaign last Feb. 10.

Journalists covering Poe’s campaign noted the lack of coordination between the KNP leaders and its media bureau.

Poe’s media handlers often tell reporters that they had yet to receive "much-needed information" coming from the KNP leadership.

Most of the time, journalists covering the campaign are confused over last-minute changes in provincial sorties.

Interviews with Poe during his campaign sorties are almost an impossible task, which prompted enterprising reporters to physically block his way just to get a few words or reactions from the media-shy actor.

Highly placed sources from the KNP disclosed it is just a matter of time before Reyes resigns as Poe’s media bureau chief.

"They (KNP leaders and Poe) are not appreciating how Rod works," one source said. "The principal (Poe) does not want to talk, which makes the situation worse."

Other sources in the slate said Reyes often is kept out of the loop as regards to KNP operations.

Since Reyes was also kept in the dark as to Poe’s itinerary, sources added the KNP media bureau chief is getting the flak from reporters and KNP leaders for inefficient and unfavorable media coverage.

Sources said "the people surrounding FPJ" should be blamed for the inefficient media packaging of Poe.

"You are a presidential candidate, you must maximize your exposure through the media. Yet they (KNP leaders) complain of bad publicity," the sources said.

Another KNP source disclosed the earlier plans for Poe to face the media in news conferences or schedule his guesting in talk shows to dispel claims the actor has nothing to say.

The plan succeeded when Poe appeared as the guest of STAR publisher and chairman of the board Max V. Soliven in the cable television show "Impact 2004" aired over ANC.

The source added Poe’s handlers apparently failed to follow up on other invitations for the KNP standard-bearer to appear in other talks shows and interviews from foreign media which "have been piling up." — Paolo Romero


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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