THE Iglesia ni Cristo seems to be crying “uncle” over what it perceives to be a demolition job against it by the favorite television station of President BS Aquino The Last.
With such a sentiment, it should surprise no one if INC members have started a move to boycott this “family” TV station. (I wonder if the boycott included the very popular teleserye “Pangako sa Iyo” that had just been concluded.) This reminds me of the boycott of a broadsheet by followers of then President Erap Estrada for its alleged biased reporting against him. The ads of that broadsheet noticeably thinned during that boycott, to the delight of its competitors.
A battle royale could ensue if the INC goes against the powerful TV network. But, is there an officially sanctioned boycott of the “family” broadcast network by the INC? Church officials have already clarified that there’s none “but it couldn’t prevent individual members from expressing their displeasure about the ‘one-sided’ reporting.”
Columnists like me could be guilty of bias as we express opinions but news reporting is a different matter. The news reports of The Manila Times, for instance, have covered extensively the activities and pronouncements of the Malacañang tenant without editorializing. This is so unlike the many opinions of Times columnists who often accentuate the many ills of the Aquino administration.
I like CNN Philippines for airing issues against the INC and then it gave prime time to an extensive interview of INC spokesman Edwil Zabala by its star reporter Pia Hontiveros. Oh yes, I’ve said it time and again – Pia is one of television’s two best female political reporters, the other being Lynda Jumilla of ANC.
This brings us to the more important question – has the “family” network been fair in its reporting on INC affairs?
It’s coverage of activities of expelled minister Lowell Menorca and of siblings Angel Manalo and Lottie Manalo Hernandez deserves closer scrutiny. With their expulsion, they shouldn’t expect any red carpet welcome of the INC property reserved for its officials. Their attempts to break into their former residence were always covered by the “family” network although they’ve lost the right to be allowed inside.
The same held true when Menorca was issued a warrant for libel charges. However, it didn’t consider “newsworthy” the dismissal of Menorca and company’s criminal charges against INC officials by the Department of Justice for being baseless.
Nobody should expect the “family” broadcast station to publicly admit it’s aiding a demolition job against the INC. A denial of engaging in a demolition job need not be issued by the station. A semblance of fairness by allowing the INC to air its side would suffice.
The Senate’s lost glory
Lawyer Aluino Tolentino, a virtual fixture of the Senate Secretariat, gave his suggestions on how the Senate could regain its former glory and restore the trust, confidence and respect of the people.
Tolentino, who was once given the accolade by Senate President Franklin Drilon as his “walking encyclopedia on legislation,” and described by former Senate Deputy Secretary Demaree Raval as “parliamentarian non pareil,” gave 17 suggestions, all of which merit consideration. For this column, I’ll discuss only his proposal to strengthen the committees.
“There should be a strong committee system because in a legislative body, the real important work is done in the committee and not in plenary session,” Tolentino stressed.
I fully agree.
I don’t know why but many senators seem to be averse to committee hearings — unless it involves a controversial issue and is getting full media coverage. A committee hearing at present may proceed even if just one senator joins the chairman. The absent senators, therefore, could no longer hear the opinions and explanations of expert resource persons at the public hearing. It’s no wonder that in plenary debates on bills, many senators ask questions that have already been clarified in committee hearings.
Former Sen. Kit Tatad, one of the best majority leaders of the Senate, had questioned time and again the validity of committee reports resulting from hearings attended by only two senators. Tolentino shared Kit’s views on the need for the presence of a majority of all committee members for a committee to transact business.
Aside from its patent disregard for quorum, the current practice unmasks the laziness of many senators. Why, a number of senators don’t even attend committee hearings of their own bills! Some senators may be looking down at some congressmen but many committee chairmen at the House refuse to hear bills unless their authors are present. What’s more, most House bills are ironed out at the committee level, such that plenary debates on these measures aren’t as extended as those in the Senate.