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Aquino III President of the Philippines At the 9th Medianation Summit
[Delivered at the Taal Vista Hotel, Tagaytay City, on November 23, 2012]
Magandang hapon ho. Maupo ho tayong lahat.
Secretary Ricky Carandang; Secretary Rene Almendras; Undersecretary Manolo Quezon; of course— kanina hindi ko matigil mapansin si Mayor Bambol Tolentino, para bang ang laki ng ngiti eh, parang damang-dama niya lahat ng binabanggit n’yong “relasyon ng gobyerno sa media”; Mr. Bart Guingona; Dr. Don Salazar; Ms. Maribel Buenaobra; Sandy Prieto-Romualdez; Ms. Maria [Ressa]—sabi ng staff ko po, “Rissah” [laughter]; Jessica Soho; Ging Reyes; conveners, media gatekeepers, journalists, media practitioners; honored guests; mga minamahal ko pong kababayan:
Kanina ho pagpasok ko, nagulat ako na ang tagal ko na hong kilala ang karamihan sa inyo. Hindi na natin babanggitin ‘yung edad. Basta alam na rin n’yo kung kailan tayo umpisang magkakilala. Pero, the thought that really entered my mind was: there really is a “gerenational” shift. Parang, not too long ago, a lot of you were the “up-and-coming stars” of media. Now, you are—how should I put it delicately [laughter]—the most respected individuals in media. [Laughter] So, parepareho lang tayo.
Dati ho, mayroon tayong mga mas nakakatanda na at the end of the day, sila ang may responsibilidad… Ngayon po, tayo na po ang may responsibilidad.
Can I get everybody to relax and say first that—I just came from the ASEAN Summit where I endeavored to be my most diplomatic self and there’s still a glow from that. If I could withstand certain impositions by other quarters who are not my countrymen, I think I can be more diplomatic with my countrymen.
transparency. I believe it is incumbent on all of us to continually improve the standards to which we hold ourselves and to insist on accountability—from public officials to journalists like you. This. but because I believe it can help. Kami ho dalawang oras lang yata. we have always sought to institute honesty. when I talk about your profession in public. individual practitioners in some organizations have tried to move in this direction. I have been forthright about the shortcomings I see—not because I enjoy criticizing. Martial Law changed that. before Martial Law. For example. But government does not exist in a vacuum. with those in power censoring and even punishing those who spoke the truth—my father included. and corruption in your industry. Tatlong araw kayo dito. Before going further. . turning a noble profession into a propaganda machine. So allow me to talk to you today about two broad areas where your solidarity can produce tangible outcomes [pauses to clear his throat] … Siguro ho.From the very start. [Laughter] Solidarity can produce tangible outcomes that can lead to greater public trust in media: the lack of common standards. media was held in high regard. is an acknowledgement of an existing problem. We remain cognizant that corruption and inefficiency still exist. Business and industry have already undertaken such endeavors. we will continue to work for the success of these reforms. This is why. and I am glad to see the beginnings of similar measures in your industry here—that you have adopted “Corruption in Media” as its theme. But. I know that in the past. I believe. and I am old enough to remember how. For these reforms to take root and flourish. And while we still have a long way to go. and more importantly. I must clarify: this is not a pitch for government to take an active role in media regulation. an indication that this is an issue you want to address. and though the road ahead will not be without its challenges. we need corresponding efforts in other sectors. I have seen the harmful effects of state-controlled media. our efforts have already borne fruit. and considered the journal of record. our reforms are often cited when speaking of how we have vastly improved our viability as an investment destination. but I believe that a concerted industry-wide effort is necessary and infinitely more effective. also having seen the price our country paid to regain freedom. Pakidamay na lang n’yo kami ‘pag nag-e-enjoy na kayo maya-maya. and accountability in government. naalala ko nasa Tagaytay tayo.
but to make it easy for everyone to do the right thing. We in government are already trying to . For instance. from the lowliest clerk. It also falls upon you to enlighten the public further on the difference between opinion and reportage. source information.The first is about the need for consistent standards in media. This is no different from the concerns that government and the private sector must bear in mind for all employees. While the lack of standards that apply throughout your industry does not directly lead to corruption. to a Chief Justice removed from office for failing to declare around 98 percent of his cash wealth. Those outside media engage you first and foremost not on the level of the publisher or the editor. it does make it easier for corruption to take place. The second thing I want to talk about goes to the heart of what you are discussing among yourselves today: corruption in your industry. what are the parameters concerning endorsements? What are the requirements for sources? And when anyone is unhappy with how a media person conducts himself. but on the level of the reporter. the line between the two seems thin and easily crossed. which perhaps gives you an added impetus to settle the issues once and for all. at the heart of skepticism or even hostility lies the question of conflicts of interest—and with regard to this. but on their own desires. Given the hard work they do and the high standards everyone should demand of them. This is at the heart of the reforms we are implementing in government. This is what we have been working to enforce. and accountability apply to all public servants. there are many questions left unanswered. This is already a topic of debate within your ranks. transparency. and craft the reports that find their way to our countrymen. The idea is not to make life more difficult. If the standards hold for all. to those in the highest echelons of power. the more leeway they have to make decisions—not necessarily based on a common set of rules and regulations. Who can Juan dela Cruz run to in your industry? Of course. what are the mechanisms for redress? Citizens can go to the Ombudsman when it comes to public officials. The reporter bears the brunt of having to find stories. who play such important roles in their operations. The more discretion you give someone. no one can answer these questions as effectively and as practically as you can—and there is a great need for these answers. The standards of integrity. Like any profession imbued with public interest. so do the penalties: from the customs clerk removed from his position due to unexplained wealth. These days. it becomes legitimate to ask whether their pay and benefits are commensurate to the highest standards of integrity demanded of them.
that if they feel aggrieved. “Justice delayed is justice denied. And it makes sense for us to cooperate on overlapping issues. Similarly. viewers. As regards proposals that lead your industry to close ranks—from right of reply to libel: basic fairness should suggest that these proposals are not motivated merely by hostility to media. for example. With a media entrusted with greater responsibility and a greater awareness of the import of your work. and gain even more trust and renown from your audience. we serve the same audience: the people. This is due to the 24/7 news cycle. and you are among the first to hear of new developments. For instance. I am not here just to make suggestions.rationalize and reform our system of pay. In other cases of violence involving media. For instance. there is a need for mechanisms that can reassure your readers. so that we can reach a consensus that is fair to all concerned. As with other sectors. for their benefit. you will better fulfill your mandate.” so our courts must work efficiently. you may have heard of a governor who was suspended after assaulting a broadcaster on air. then the lowest regional trial courts will follow suit. but that there may be cases where people are genuinely and justifiably aggrieved. Instead of shutting the door. More than anything. If the courts demonstrate impunity at the top. All these questions must be addressed at a time when all of us—whatever sector we are from—are living in a period that can only be described as one of creative destruction. In cases of media killings. Truth be told. where mainstream media is no longer the sole gatekeeper of the news. benefits. we want to work with you towards the advancement and protection of your profession. let us engage in respectful dialogue. we have taken affirmative and just action. and bonuses—not only to eliminate the temptation of corruption. though we may work in different spheres. resulting in justice for all involved. and where enforcement . we in government are demanding the apprehension of suspects and the filing of charges that stick. but also to compensate our employees adequately for their work. This is a concern for all of us precisely because we are dealing with people’s lives. the decriminalization of libel should not be license to commit it. they can find an advocate within your ranks to resolve their concerns quickly and fairly. We must have courts that are impartial and fair in the verdicts they hand down. The relationship between media and government is unique—you have extraordinary access to officials. and listeners. As the saying goes. This is why I have been so focused on reforming our justice system. the protection of the rights of all—journalists included—relies on the fair and impartial dispensation of justice.
My door is always open.and the spread of information can take place on the level of the common citizen because of the rise of social media. I hope you view my presence here not as that of a President. and who will continue to do so after I step down. Our core values should not be any different from that of our people. and I am here to listen to you. allow me to suggest that the same reason I have grown in faith and optimism about the country’s prospects should be the same reason for you to have faith and optimism in your industry’s potential: the Filipino people. reasonable or unreasonable. and to work with you. viewers. but as of someone who has read your newspapers and watched your shows long before being elected into this position. In facing these challenges. I bid you all a good day and thank you. and listeners have not already said themselves. and achieve positive change. and they can tell whenever one of us is being fair or unfair. I have the privilege of being able to serve the country from this position. The very standards that have allowed media to be considered the fourth estate—vetting facts. which closes off so many avenues for improving our lot in life. . I have always believed that the media is both the bulwark of freedom. and speaking truth to power—are all challenged by the need to break the story first. and an instrument for empowering our fellow citizens to take responsibility for their actions. I have said nothing that your own readers. or post online. For that matter. Success or failure is now measured in milliseconds. They believe that the potential is vast. They are clamoring for change. They do not want this country to fail. And with that. And they know the challenge that needs to be addressed: poverty borne of corruption in its many forms. where you must be the first to Tweet. Right now. objectivity in reportage.