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Home Columns JGL Eye PS to a Presidential Visit to the U.S.A.: Leaving the “Mouthpiece” Behind
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Columns - JGL Eye
Friday, 24 September 2010 08:06

 

JGL Eye

By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA

(Journal Group Link International)

   

Postscript to a Presidential Visit to the United States: Leaving the “Mouthpiece” Behind

 

C HICAGO (jGLi) – I don’t personally know anybody in the three-headed Department of the Press of President Benigno Aquino, III Administration. But it has all my sympathy when not one of the three heads of that Department was brought along to record President Aquino’s current trip to the United States.

 

By so doing, P-Noy might have chalked up a dubious first for leaving behind someone, who could write the press release of Malacañang, from the point of view of Malacañang.

 

I know there are a still photographer and videographer from Malacañang who covered his visit. But there was no press secretary, who could write a press release that would record the gestures, body languages, words that the President wants to convey to the public and interpret them under color of authority, not available to the media.

 

How tragic!

 

I am sure we would not have a Bible, a Koran or a Torah that evolved according to the views of the leaders of Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths if nobody from their followers will be on hand to record and retell these events to the people?

 

ROMULO WAS THERE

 

W hen General Douglas MacArthur led the Leyte landing, he made sure his virtual press secretary of that moment – Filipino Carlos P. Romulo – was there by his side to record his landing in Palo, Leyte, and the subsequent Battle of Leyte Gulf, the largest naval battle of World War II.

 

Yes, there are reporters from various media, covering President Aquino in his trip. But a lot of times, these reporters are not privy to private actions and feelings of the President that deserve to be told.

 

I was glad former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo appointed veteran newsman Jun Icban of the Manila Bulletin to be her press secretary during the dying days of her administration. When Mr. Icban accompanied Mrs. Arroyo in her state visits and provincial sorties, he acted like he was among the journalists, covering Mrs. Arroyo.

 

Mrs. Arroyo said when he was alive, the former Press Secretary Cerge Remonde intimated to her the importance of having a journalist as her press secretary. It was this argument that convinced her to pluck out Mr. Icban from the Manila Bulletin desk.

 

Among the three chiefs of the Communications Group, it is Secretary Ricky Carandang, who comes closest to have a journalism background, as he was a veteran broadcast journalist.


Secretary Herminio Coloma comes out more of a political pundit than a journalist although he claims to have a weekly column from a business publication. But he is not familiar with the day-to-day deadline that saps but drives the adrenaline of journalists.

 

And Secretary Edwin Lacierda, being a lawyer, may not be an ideal person to write a press release either.

 

SUBTRACTION BY ADDITION

 

If President Aquino left his spokesman behind to save a few pesos, why did he pay allegedly a U.S. press public-relations agency $1-million to promote his U.S. visit?

 

I asked a Philippine Tourism representative in San Francisco, California, if she is part of the US press and public-relations agency. I also asked her if I could have the name of the agency. I did not get a reply.

 

The representative just told me that I was a day late in requesting for media accreditation. I requested her to issue accreditation to my representative at the community appearance of President Aquino at Fairmont Hotel in San Jose, California.

 

The Aquino government should make an accounting and comparable study of the publicity generated in news clips, sound bytes and video clips with previous Philippine governments hiring outside public-relations agencies if the hiring is worth every dollar.

 

The absence of community events where Filipinos could mix with the President has prompted some to ask how the Aquino administration is going to address “the cyclical problems of mass poverty, corruption and gross pattern of human-rights violation left behind by the Arroyo administration.”

 

The Migrant Heritage Commission based in the Washington, D.C. area claims that the Aquino Administration has missed the boat in trumping corruption by not institutionalizing the Truth Commission. He refused to let Philippine Congress craft it into a law and fund it. It reminded Mr. Aquino that a new body couldn’t exist without a budget earmarked by Congress.

 

WHAT ABOUT HUMAN RIGHTS?

 

B esides, the Truth Commission limits itself to investigation of corruption. How about the human-rights violations and the nearly 1,000 victims of extra-judicial executions under Gloria Arroyo that was well documented by the United Nations, MHC’s Arnedo Valera asks.

 

I would be glad to hear how the Aquino administration would react to the complaints of United Filipinos of Hong Kong for giving more importance to meeting with Obama than addressing the concerns of OFWs. Filipinos in Hong Kong are reeling following the Manila hostage fiasco.

 

“What is US$434 million in aid compared to the staggering US$18 billion OFW remittance,” they asked. # # #

 

Editor’s Note: To contact the author, please e-mail him at:  (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)

 



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