Conflict of interest

SEEMS like it’s still too early for former Vice President Noli de Castro and Ms. Korina Sanchez (wife of former Sen. Mar Roxas) to go back to TV Patrol.

Mar Roxas’s vice-presidential defeat in the May elections still seems to be an open wound for his supporters, (perhaps) including the ex-senator’s wife. And memories of De Castro’s presumed support for the unpopular former President (now Pampanga representative) Gloria Macapagal Arroyo still lingers in many people’s minds, including mine.

Can they really report — or even read — news without us raising an eyebrow in suspicion regarding their supposed impartiality? Especially now that President Noynoy Aquino is still on his first 100+ days in office (and already hounded by various controversies), Sanchez and De Castro seem to be candidates for case studies on conflict of interest.

Imagine the day when TV Patrol reports about a stubborn Mar Roxas election protest as well as the role of the former vice president in the controversy-infested administration of former Pres. Arroyo.

Now the question arises: Is this why former ABS-CBN news head Maria Ressa left? She has been identified as a staunch opponent to a Sanchez-and-de-Castro comeback until her last days at ABS-CBN. In an Inquirer interview some time after Pres. Aquino’s election, Ressa was quoted as saying, “[Their return is] a case of conflict of interest… There is a need to transition. There is no quick fix.” She also added, “A good rule of thumb is to follow the government’s policy: If you ran or if you campaigned, you have to take a year off first [from broadcasting].”

I agree.


The making of a ‘juicy’ President

I shall refrain from writing reports which will adversely affect a private reputation unless the public interest justifies it.

Journalist’s Code of Ethics, No. 4

The Manila Standard TODAY’s frontpage article “President had a hot date, but it was not Shalani” (10/11/10) by Joyce Pangco Pañares seemed inappropriate for a newspaper projecting itself to be into serious journalism.

Since the story is about the Chief Executive himself, it does seem worthy of a frontpage treatment (there’s Prominence for you, mah friend). But not this story and in this frivolous style.

Below are some excerpts from the article:

Socialite and chef Tina Pamintuan…said in her Twitter account that she saw Mr. Aquino and his date, whom she described as “sweet,” having dinner at Nuvo Restaurant…

She said…that Mr. Aquino and his date were at the table next to hers. Mr. Aquino ordered a bottle of Hardy’s red wine while his date had lychee martinis. Their wine and cocktails aside, the couple also had appetizers.

“Do I make you laugh?” Pamintuan quoted Mr. Aquino as telling his date.

Dolly Anne, is that you?

The story does not entirely deserve the space (and thought) allotted to it.

One, it degrades the institution that is the Presidency, pulling it down to the level of show business.

Two, the dude needs some privacy (“Can I keep my private life, the 5 percent left of it, to myself?”). Sure, he is not a private individual anymore; as President, he should be the most public person! But is our sovereign nation interested in the vicissitudes of his love life as if the stock market depended on it?

Three, the article features a claim that a young TV5 reporter may or may not be the President’s “hot date” last Saturday.

It wasn’t clear whether the woman with the President was Patricia Ann Roque, the TV5 reporter and former child star who is said to be Mr. Aquino’s new love interest.

“who is said…” — Said by whom? By the reporter herself?