Aquino calls out Noli de Castro at TV Patrol celebration
President Aquino was the guest of honor, who turned out to be a party pooper.
At the 25th anniversary celebration of ABS-CBN's TV Patrol Friday, where VIPs from both politics and media were gathered for a night of mutual back-slapping, Aquino used the occasion to deliver a sermon to the news media about negativity.
"Ang pagkiling sa negatibismo ay mag-aatras lamang sa dapat sana’y pag-usad na ng ating bayan at mga kapwa Pilipino," Aquino told his audience at the Manila Hotel.
Aquino criticizes de Castro
In remarks that caught his audience off-guard, Aquino singled out TV Patrol anchor and former vice president Noli de Castro, who was in the audience, for baseless speculations and allegedly wanting to do the country harm.
"Sana po, sa tuwing sasabihin nating, and I quote, 'magandang gabi, bayan,' ay totoong hinahangad nating maging maganda ang gabi ng bayan," Aquino said, citing three examples where De Castro gratuitously attacked the government on TV Patrol after news stories by its reporters.
One of the stories, Aquino recalled, reported the rescue of a kidnapped child by the NBI. Aquino noted that De Castro, without citing proof, kept insisting in his live banter with the reporter that the rescue was a set-up.
"May naitutulong po ba ang mga walang-basehang spekulasyon, lalo na kung lumalabas ka sa telebisyon at sinusubaybayan ng sambayanan?" Aquino asked his audience. "Kami pa po mismo ang magagalak kung makakapaghain kayo ng kapirasong ebidensya ukol dito, at kung mayroon nagkamali, usigin natin ang mga nagkamali."
Describing another instance when de Castro raised the decrepit conditions in NAIA terminal 1 after a positive story about NAIA Terminal 3, Aquino referred to the anchor's six-year term as vice president under ex-President Gloria Arroyo:
"'Yung nagkomento nito, hindi ba’t anim na taon ding tumangan sa renda ng gobyerno?... Anim na taon ang ipinagkaloob sa kanya para tumulong sa pagsasaayos ng mismong inirereklamo niya. Pero ngayon, tayo na nga ang may bitbit na problema, tayo na nga ang tutugon dito, pero, masakit nga ho, may gana pa tayong hiritan ng nagpamana?"
Aquino has used many an occasion to criticize media to its face, including his appearance at GMA Network's own anniversary in 2010, when he lamented that "too much airtime was devoted to pure entertainment."
But he has rarely, if ever, called out a prominent news anchor. De Castro, however, is the only anchor who was also a vice president, having served under Aquino's unpopular predecessor Arroyo, who has been recently charged with plunder.
"‘Di po ba kung umangat ang ating kalagayan, tayo ang panalo; at kung lumubog naman ito, tayo rin naman ang talo? Bakit parang mas gusto ng iba na makita tayong lumulubog?" Aquino said, referring to de Castro's brief commentaries after TV Patrol news reports.
'Not an attack on TV Patrol'
As of late Saturday afternoon, de Castro's staff said he still could not be reached for comment. But on Friday night's news program Bandila, ABS-CBN's head of News and Current Affairs Ging Reyes said, "Walang bad feelings, walang pikunan. At kami'y naniniwala na maraming babatikos sa atin dahil hindi naman lahat matutuwa sa mga ibinabalita at inilalabas sa TV Patrol."
De Castro was not interviewed for the Bandila report.
Contacted by GMA News Online, Palace communications chief Ricky Carandang, himself a former ABS-CBN news anchor, clarified that Aquino's speech was not an attack on TV Patrol but on Noli de Castro. "The President wanted ABS to ask itself why it was allowing its standards to be violated by this one person," Carandang said, noting that Aquino has no problems with ABS' news reporting which has been "straightforward and accurate," but with de Castro's "gratuitous commentary" after news reports.
"There should be a regular disclosure of the context in which he makes partisan comments," Carandang said. — LBG/TJD, GMA News