On the lameness of the ‘apology’ of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

And we wonder why — no, we lament that — there is such an astounding culture of impunity in the Philippines. It is because for the trouble of acceding to an invitation to speak the truth before a panel of men in scarlet robes, private citizens cop ridicule from an institution we’ve for so long been made to believe are the least likely to deliver offense: our supposed “guardians” of “truth and justice” a distinction which former tabloid and now “broadsheet” the Philippine Daily Inquirer fancies itself as the concept corporate embodied.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer, however, benefited immensely from the rise to power of the Aquino-Cojuangco feudal clan. In the lead up to the 1986 “people power” “revolution”, the then fledgling tabloid was lucky enough to have bet on the right horse. It was a big bet made while supposedly espousing reporting objectivity as evident in its chosen slogan “Balanced News, Fearless Views”. The most recent spectacular contradiction of this ironic slogan can be found as late as the beginning of 2011 when the Inquirer proclaimed newly-installed Philippine President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III “Filipino of the Year” for 2010. This was despite Noynoy having been in office only six months as President — a period marked by a litany of astounding gaffes, most notable of which is a bungled handling of diplomatic relations with China after a botched hostage rescue operation resulted in the deaths of nine Hong Kong tourists in August of 2010.

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This sorry record did not stop the Inquirer from gushing on its hallowed pages how Noynoy was “the living Filipino who made the most positive impact in 2010” and even started calling him a “rock star” — one who was bigger than singer Arnel Pineda (lead singer of the American rock band Journey). Even more incredible, the Inquirer used as its basis “survey” results from “research” firms Social Weather Station and Pulse Asia that showed what at the time was a high satisfaction and trust rating given the president by the Filipino public. Never mind, of course, that both firms are owned by Noynoy’s relatives and friends.

So it is quite unfortunate that all of this blatant bias coming from a newspaper that purports to be “fearless” and “balanced”, now finds its most recent victim in Demetrio Vicente who exhibited more balance and fearlessness as he took the witness stand at the impeachment trial of Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona last Tuesday, the 13th of March than any Inquirer editor could likely ever know. The front page of the 14th March issue of the Inquirer featured a collage of unflattering photos of Vicente who had reportedly previously suffered a stroke.

This inability to live up to its tacky slogan is evident in the manner with which the venerable “broadsheet” issued its delayed “apology” for this spectacular lapse in editorial judgement.

The Inquirer apologizes to its readers who took offense to the newspaper’s use of a series of photographs of a defense witness, Demetrio Vicente, who testified on Tuesday in the Senate impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato C. Corona.

The Inquirer issued a statement acknowledging that Vicente’s photos, which appeared on the front page of the newspaper’s two-star edition and on Page A20 of its one-star edition on Wednesday, had offended some of its readers.

“For this, we sincerely apologize. It is not our intention to disparage Mr. Vicente in any way,” the Inquirer said on its official Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Note the carefully- and cleverly-chosen words. The apology;

(1) did NOT directly address Mr Vicente;

(2) did NOT acknowledge the disrespect and lack of taste it exhibited; and,

(3) did NOT express regret.

Instead, the Inquirer‘s “apology”;

(a) denied any impropriety on the part of the paper;

(b) sought to appease its source of income and primary value proposition to its advertisers (its readership); and,

(c) passed off the information as a news report rather than a sincere message from its editor.

Just another day in the wholesale and profitable abatement of the national intelligence. Such is the Filipino Condition upon which corporate stalwarts such as the Philippine Daily Inquirer scrapes off the icing from its daily cake.

[Photo courtesy Vox Bikol National News.]

38 Replies to “On the lameness of the ‘apology’ of the Philippine Daily Inquirer”

  1. vincente comes out with more credibility and respect than the inquirer could ever have.
    the only usefulness the paper serves is to wipe your a&se.

  2. Mr. Demetrio Vicente is a HUMAN BEING…he is old and he deserves respect. What you have done here is utterly irresponsible and wow almost inhuman…totally uncalled for…totally unecessary. NAPAKABASTOS. NAPAKAWALANG KAPWA TAO.

    Do you want to read a newspaper like this? I know I don’t.

  3. the trial – a study in 3rd world stupidity, incompetence & hypocricy.

    the motives – suspect from start
    – power & money
    – self interest cojuangco-aquino
    – hacienda luisita – 10 billion pesos
    – an aquino SC
    the railroading – unconstitutional
    – signed without reading
    – ill prepared/written
    – no discussion
    – bribery/threats to sign
    no probable cause, no evidence at outset
    – trial ‘ a fishing expedition’
    no pre-trial – mistake
    the blackmail, threats, bribery
    questionable/invalid surveys
    -appeal to public/emotion – failed
    the incompetence of prosecution
    – expected/wanted easy resignation – unprepared for trial
    the disregard of due process – trial by publicity
    the disregard of separation of powers
    – p-noy obsessively talking of ‘guilt’ of corona
    the black propaganda
    – info fed to ‘friendly’ press
    illegally obtained documents
    – the small lady
    – bsp/psb
    fake documents
    the partiality of senator judges
    the mainstream media as palace PR
    – rappler set up for impeachment
    – raissa robles – propagandist
    ABS-CBN lawyers
    58 private prosecutors
    5 articles dropped – no evidence
    part of 6th ruled out
    conflicts of interest
    – angara
    – tupas
    senator bribes – money and other
    – revilla
    – lapid
    – cayetano
    senator judges acting as prosecutors
    – drilon

    it is clear that firstly the trial should never have taken place, secindly that corona should be acquitted – based on legal grounds – and thirdly we need a better class/standard of politicians who think about the country, not themselves.

  4. benign0, you hit the nail right in the head. Very insightful post.

    What this unInquirer is doing is very Obama-esque MFM treatment to Penoy.

    1. Heyy, please Trosp, no comparison with Obama in any manner at all! They’re oceans apart! In terms of intelligence and the smarts, they’re a universe apart. Ok am an Obama fan, read a lot about the guy, and am totally offended when you compare an inept etc person (Aquino) to an intellect (Obama). 🙂

  5. Was it the reason why the late Max Soliven, Art Borjal and Louie Beltran left? The dubious and shameless character of PDI showed when they omitted on purpose the name of Max Soliven and company as one of their founding members in their later anniversary issues.Mr. Vicente was obviously handicapped and how his struggling image lands him in the front page can only be attributed to mischief and to ridicule him because he is a witness of the other side. Maybe the former Senator Boy Herrera can take the cudgels in putting to justice PDI for such discriminatory acts against handicapped persons. I think he crafted a law (and so did Art Borjal) that guarantees the rights of disabled and handicapped persons against discrimination. Had Erap been right all along about this newspaper?

  6. Mark it well guys this will not be the last witness of the defense to suffer this. Once again PDI has it’s true colors which is yellow.

    1. I agree. Inexcusable. But those are made by irresponsible individuals and their target is not an elderly sick people whose only fault is to testify for an enemy of PDI’s master. Those irresponsible disparaging remarks are not coming the biggest newspaper who has journalistic ethics to follow, who has editors who can correct such bad decisions. But again, that is not to excuse other disparaging remarks.

  7. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it.
    I’m sorry I did it.

    They look similar but the latter apologizes for the deed while the former apologizes for the discrepancy between thought and actions.

    1. There’s another one:

      I’m sorry I got caught.

      The lamest of them all, which is what I think PDI’s “apology” was, in essence.

    1. Even if they apologized the fact remains that they shouldn’t have done it in the first place. The whole thing is starting to look like an attempt to portray Mr Vicente as a person who mental awareness is questionable in order to discredit him as a reliable witness and the humiliation part was just icing on the cake.

  8. I have read the PDI’s so-called “apology”. It lacks the right emotion alright. I can’t even say they were sincere enough that the apology looked like it was copy-pasted from a spiel source.

    I mean, that’s it? They won’t exercise a full effort to make up to it?

    Let us not support PDI anymore. It’s a sham.

  9. It really pisses me off! I want to shoot CDQ and Neil Cruz in the spinal column with a .22 in order to get the message strait that they should treat person with disabilities with respect,to make them feel the pain of being a paralytic, but it just be a waste of bullets and yellow blood.

    1. At the end of the day, you shouldn’t read their Opinion or political tied articles. It will only make you rage and it seems they are successful.

      Either read Manila Standard, Philippine Daily Tribune or Philippine Star.

      1. It’s understandable to have nasty stuff in the opinion page. What’s even more glaring is how the news articles are presented. The most noticeable of which are the headlines themselves.

  10. Apology not accepted.

    I’m no lawyer, but I’d like to know if we can file a case against PDI for this utter lack of disrespect to the handicapped. Someone should teach them a lesson and not let them feel, for one second, that we will not forget this shameful act.

    1. PDI is a member of the Philippine Press Institute. Complains can be forwarded through these contact details:

      Room 206, B.F. Condominium Building
      A. Soriano Ave., Intramuros, Manila
      Tels. 5279632, 5274478 Fax 5273390

      1. IT’S MORE FUN when you make fun of disabled human beings.

        Senior citizens and disabled people’s organizations should sue PDI NOW.

  11. PDI has been doing that for quite some time now. I remember them headlining Erap’s less-than-glamorous shots prior to the latter’s impeachment.

    It’s high time they realize the utter tastelessness of that practice.

    Those really are cheap shots, pardon the pun.

  12. Newspapers or any Media are tools of those politicians in power. Some are owned by relatives. Some by friends and political allies. Some are just bribed by politicians, to get good features, on their front pages.
    You can find more truth in some Blogs. Because most Bloggers do not have any hidden agendas. Although, there are some Bloggers who are biased in favor of their political masters; some also has hidden agendas.
    It’s up to the readers to use their common sense, to determine what is true, and what is not. What is biased ; and what is fair…

  13. Never will I waste my money again with this rag of a paper. I still can’t believe how people couldn’t see this president’s vindictiveness, that it’s splitting this poverty-stricken country apart. has anyone noticed the economy is tanking?

  14. Aside from poking fun at and abusing a person who is elderly and with a disability or disease with this photo on the Front page, I also believe that PDI has done this to HARASS A WITNESS. To make witnesses afraid to testify. Did they put any such unflattering photos of a witness of the Prosecution? A four-photo montage? Using caption like “Character witness” that was not meant to be literal but figurative?

    PDI editors wrote a first apology which was lame and a lie (“We had no other photos of the witness.”). Print media is known to choose flattering and unflattering photos intended to make a person they like look good or they don’t like as bad. Has PDI printed any unflattering photos of the President looking like a special child (there are many, though not justifiable!)? No because they respect him. No malice here? Oh come on, PDI, almost every headline you have chosen is tainted with malice.

    But what can we expect from a newspaper whose actions led to the conviction of an innocent boy to jail? Over 20 years ago, Hubert Webb claimed that Jessica Alfaro the star witness of his case would not be able to identify him because she does not know him. The next day, PDI printed his photo on the front page. PDI, you have no conscience. How do you sleep at night?

    I learned that PDI had another version of the paper on that day without those unflattering photos of Mr Vicente. Did they revise it to add it to the later issue? Why? https://twitter.com/#!/edrixcrisologo/status/180155387750776832/photo/1

    I saw a feature in an old issue of PDI showing Mr Vicente as a much respected expert in bonsai, a passion he can no longer practice that because of his stroke. His illness has taken away his abilities and PDI has tried to take away his dignity? Very shameful and heartless. http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=2479&dat=20000407&id=RFM1AAAAIBAJ&sjid=ZyUMAAAAIBAJ&pg=2597%2C3753192

    My question to PDI is who was responsible for that and what action has been done? No offer to the man they hurt? Words are cheap.

  15. when i’m on my grade school years i used to read pdi issues almost everyday…i idolized the likes of max soliven, chito beltran, bel cunanan, they were legendary ones in the field of journalism. but now this newspaper lost it’s glorious ways in the past. pati taong nastroke na nga e ginagawang katawatawa pa, tama ba yon. ngayon ang pdi magaling na lang sa character assasination na gusto nilang targetin.

  16. erratum: louie beltran pala instead of chito beltran…chito beltran was the son of the late great columnist of pdi louie beltran.

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