MANILA, AUGUST 2, 2012 (PHILSTAR) By Delon Porcalla - Malacañang defended anew yesterday President Aquino’s tirades against newscaster Noli de Castro, noting there was no better occasion to express the criticisms than during the 25th anniversary of ABS-CBN’s news program TV Patrol.

“We believe that it was the right place and the right time. We believe it was a proper moment to inform ABS-CBN TV Patrol on the actuations of their anchorman,” reiterated presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda.

“We believe the President was not in error when he decided to make that speech on the 25th anniversary of TV Patrol,” Lacierda told a news briefing.

Lacierda earlier said that a majority of Filipinos supported Aquino’s bashing of the former vice president.

“The public felt very strongly in favor of the President,” he said previously, downplaying speculations Aquino earned the ire of the people, media practitioners in particular, for picking a fight with media, apart from violating press freedom.

Lacierda disagreed with the observation of the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines (NUJP) that the President has a “whine and bash routine” where he takes the opportunity to humiliate certain people he disagrees with on occasions wherein he is the guest.

“I don’t agree with the statements made by NUJP. We can agree to disagree but we stand by (what we have declared before),” Lacierda said.

Furthermore, as what several newspaper columnists have opined, “the basic opposition to the President’s speech in TV Patrol was not so much to substance, it was more of the occasion, the time and venue.”

“We have a lot of people who have different opinions on that. Some columnists as well have mentioned that it was the right place and the right time,” Lacierda added.

He assured media they could still invite Aquino to be their guest of honor during special occasions.

“You can expect the President to be always frank with his statements. He has always been forthright,” Lacierda said.

Lacierda sees no problem with the presidential tirades last week in Manila Hotel for De Castro’s apparent non-professionalism by making off the cuff remarks on live television.

“We don’t necessarily subscribe to the idea that there were negative comments. We monitored the media stations – the comments in those online publications that came out,” Lacierda recalled.

He said Aquino’s specific complaint against the snide remarks of De Castro – who served as vice president for six years until June 2010 – cannot be considered as having a “chilling effect” on media in general.

“There were comments coming from certain media personalities. And, understandably, how can you have a chilling effect if they were still able to comment on the speech of the President?” Lacierda asked.

“It shows that the President wasn’t dictating on what media should be doing. He only made a fair commentary on a particular anchorman in TV Patrol,” he said.

In essence, what the Chief Executive only wanted was for media, reporters and news anchors alike, to “get your facts straight, contextualize the facts, and report it properly,” Lacierda explained.

This was the same message Aquino reminded executives of BusinessWorld, which also celebrated its 25th anniversary on the same day, July 27, but the only difference was TV Patrol’s coverage “got more prominence” than the business newspaper.

“When it came to TV Patrol, apparently it was more focused on one anchorman. But the overall emphasis was consistent with both BusinessWorld, when he attended the anniversary of BusinessWorld and with TV Patrol,” Lacierda clarified.

“He mentioned three things: Get your facts straight; contextualize – make sure that you contextualize the facts, and then you report it properly,” he said.

Aquino said negativism in media was holding back the country’s progress.

Aquino minced no words in saying that many of the problems he faced came from the previous administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and De Castro as vice president.

In remarks that caused an uneasy silence among the party crowd, Aquino singled out de Castro for undue negativism and voicing “baseless speculations.”

Aquino recalled a news report about the rescue of a child by the National Bureau of Investigation, where De Castro reportedly quipped that the rescue may have been a setup.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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