No, Sonny, It’s Not Media’s Fault


In our view, [the President’s lower satisfaction rating]is mostly media-related. We are hoping that through disseminating correct and truthful information, Filipinos can thoroughly understand the position of the government.
— Presidential Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma

Blame media — that was one thing this writer strictly avoided as a Palace official facing negative coverage in the Arroyo administration. Sure, the press banners bad news, since people pay more attention to them than good news they need not worry about.

But criticizing coverage is almost sure to worsen it. Media won’t tone it down and thus appear to give in to pressure. Newsmen may even ratchet up attacks to show their independence, if not their irritation.

It’s very different under President Benigno Aquino 3rd, who has openly taken issue with top media people and entities. As guest of honor of broadcaster ABS-CBN in 2012, Aquino criticized top anchor Noli de Castro. Last August, Aquino took another swipe at the former vice-president.

Like his boss, Presidential Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma blamed media for the steep fall in the administration’s net satisfaction ratings as polled by Social Weather Stations in March. In particular, he pointed to coverage of the massacre of 44 police commandos in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

Yet net satisfaction has been falling well before the January 25 killings, from a high of +66 percent in June 2013. It dipped to the previous low point of +29 last June, but recovered a bit in September and December to about +35. But in March, the percentage-point difference between satisfied and dissatisfied plunged to +19.

Now, is that 47-point drop in barely two years — the largest decline in a quarter-century of SWS net satisfaction ratings — just due to nasty media? Come on.
It’s not just Mamasapano

To be sure, Mamasapano was behind the minus-50 dissatisfaction grade for the question on resolving the 2009 Maguindanao Massacre with justice. Many respondents evidently confused the Special Action Force bloodbath three months ago with the nearly six-year-old election-time carnage.

There was a sharp 22-point drop to +15 since September 2011 in the issue of “telling the truth to the people.” Plus: net satisfaction in “restoring peace in Mindanao” since 2012, and “reconciliation with Muslim rebels” since last June eroded by 19 points. “Fighting terrorism” was down by 17 points from September, and “rehabilitating areas damaged by conflict in Mindanao” by 13.

Now, if President Aquino did not authorize a suspended crony police chief to run a dangerous assault into rebel areas in the middle of a controversial peace process with those insurgents, then blamed everyone else but himself for the resulting bloody mess, even getting Cabinet members, legislators, military and police generals to cover up his guilt, media would have no Mamasapano debacle to report and lambast.

Moreover, other issues unrelated to the botched mission also saw declines since last year. Net satisfaction for “helping disaster victims”, “helping the poor”, and “providing jobs” all fell by 10 points since last September. “Eradicating graft and corruption” lost 12, while “promoting the welfare of OFWs” or overseas Filipino workers declined by 8 points. Inflation improved by 10 points, but remains at minus-8 net satisfaction.

In sum, even setting aside Mindanao issues, Filipinos are less satisfied with the government on Aquino’s slogan issues of poverty and graft. This despite the economy’s vaunted growth, the tens of billions of pesos spent on monthly conditional cash transfers (CCT) for the poor, and endless presidential rhetoric on Tuwid na Daan. What gives?
Is CCT getting to the poor?

SWS’s March survey results on hunger, poverty and employment may offer some indications of why citizen satisfaction with Aquino’s slogan concerns of poverty and corruption dropped. Before then, here’s something most media missed which may be one big reason for gripes over destitution and sleaze.

Since 2011, Aquino has turned his predecessor’s CCT program of monthly stipends for poor households (HHs) into the most high-profile pillar of his anti-poverty campaign.
Under his watch, the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program has trebled into a P40-billion-a-year initiative assisting a reported 3.8 million families.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development distributes CCT to families listed under the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (NHTS) database of 5.25 million poor HHs. DSWD requires that recipients comply with conditions such as keeping children in school and visiting health clinics.

But in recent years, things have happened which may make people, especially the very poor targeted for aid, wonder if the government is backpedaling. The 2013 Commission on Audit report on DSWD said thousands of families outside the poorest areas targeted by CCT, got stipends. To quote the COA report:

“The ranking as to poverty incidence of provinces or municipalities was not totally considered in the selection of beneficiaries to be covered under Sets 1 and 2. Additional provinces under Set 1, with lower poverty incidence, were given preference over those provinces with higher poverty incidence without any document to prove that those selected were more deserving than the others.

“For Set 2, not all municipalities selected were within the established poverty incidence cut-off. Thus, provinces with high concentration of poor households were either not covered or not equitably covered as percentage coverage per province widely varies from 1.02 percent to 124.29 percent.”

If poor communities see aid meant for them going to others, they would think Aquino’s avowed thrusts of alleviating poverty and eradicating corruption are not being served. Especially when anomalies happen in an election year.

DSWD had rejoinders to COA’s criticism, but also took steps to address concerns, according to a top department official. Unfortunately, those remedial measures slashed CCT last year.

In his report on rising poverty in early 2014, Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan cited a P6.5-billion fall in CCT disbursements. That’s one-third of the P20 billion budgeted last January-June — just when food prices soared amid the drop in imports due to ports congestion.

Now, is that media’s fault, too?


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  1. and who does he need to blame, but himself…really, it is all his doing alone, and of course per the good advice of his KKKs…

    they should all go to jail in 2016…I will vote only for the candidate who promises to jail Pnoy!

  2. You say,” it’s not the media.” Well, to borrow an old phrase, tell it to the marines. Perhaps, I might allow a bit of consideration that while the media may not be all to blame, it certainly has a major role in the perception. The only consolation that one can get is that this perception is not unique to Pres. Aquino only. Even the popular Pres. Obama of United States is afflicted by the same perception. Perhaps it has also to do with being on the last term of office. However, this should not discourage this administration to pursue its good plan for the country. When one is not constrained with re-election or becoming popular, one is guided only to do the right way.

  3. Johnny Ramos on

    Sonny Coloma should not worry to down fall of his boss in the survey as they have only 13 months to go. It is Mar Roxas who have head ache in his survey because it is not moving upward anymore. The black propanda against Binay will never improve ratings of Pnoy and Mar. Trust ratings are generated of the good deeds of what good they did for the country. Using Trillanes to hit Binay relentlessly is doing more damaged to Mar Roxas than improve it. They should focus more on the good things Mar did at DOTC if there is any. Definitely Mar can not claim he did well in DILG. The Mamapasano and Yolanda have destroyed Mar. Mar should better retire so his Liberal Party could survive next year.

  4. So instead Pnoy Aquino resorts to interviews with the yellow anti-intellectuals – Kris Aquino’s manager Boy Abunda and gossip-monger blogger Raissa Robles – to discuss his love life!
    Thats about as low as you can go.

  5. The PNoy administration is already a congenital and habitual blame gamer that blaming others for their own failures and mischief comes so natural just like brushing one’s teeth in the morning. Other than the Marcos later years of his rule, this administration is the most media-blamer in history. This all started when PNoy blames everything he cannot accomplish on the Arroyo administration. Sadly, the team of Coloma, who one will stand, are mentally superior than PNoy himself, followed the lead of their master. Instead of acting like professionals as they should be, Coloma, Lacierda, Valte and Manuela chose to be like their boss, PNoy who keeps on talking garbage.

  6. Sharon Catlin on

    Presidential Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma seems to think that the people of the Philippines are too stupid to see the truth. That we as a nation are controlled in our thoughts by the news media This is typical of a tyrants mindset and world view, which seems to define our present administration that Mr. Coloma speaks for. Like a true prpagandist, Mr. Coloma presents proverbial red herrings to divert our attention from real issues, and then proclaims “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.” Will the Philippines survive another year of Aquino?

  7. Yes, Sir!!! It is media’s “fault” for finally exposing to the people that the “emperor has no clothes.” It was media’s fault that it did not expose to the public early on that the “emperor” is the “pied piper of tuwid na daan” who would lead the country to “nowhereland” as he led the SAF 44 to Mamasapano bridge of no return.

  8. Samuel Santos on

    At least media could “react” publicly when blamed for PNoy’s declining satisfaction rating/s, unlike GMA na tila baga isang “battering ram” kung pag-bintangan ng Malacanang na dahilan sa pagbaba ng satisfaction rating ni Noynoy.

  9. Perhaps it is just right that Colama Jr., Lacierda, and Valte to let. President Aquino face the weekly Press briefing so that people can understand him better.He has to confront issues head on, most important to our country so people from Batanes to Jolo can listen to him. The President has still morethan a year in office and I think he can still make alot of difference if heard and understood.
    Coloma Jr.,Lacierda, and Valte should step aside for a while because I think the moment they open their mouth there is already a distinct bias that they sound like Bunye of the past Arroyo Adminstration. People are suffering from listening fatigue like in the Marcos regime because they have been fed with daily lies.
    Big thanks to former Senator Rene Sagiusag for not attacking Manny Pacman attendance in congress. Giving him a break is giving this nation a break from all issues
    that is important to us even for a single day!