RIGOBERTO “Bobi” Tiglao, my fellow columnist in The Manila Times, wrote last Monday that the Philippine Daily Inquirer might fold up because of financial losses.
I was very saddened, along with millions of its readers, at the bad news. I was once part of the Inquirer and spent 31 years with the paper as a columnist.
Mismanagement of its finances — the paper lost P400 million in revenues in 2017 — and its editorial policies have brought down the once proud newspaper to its knees, according to Bobi Tiglao.
I don’t know about its financial mismanagement as I’m not savvy in business, but I certainly know that its anti-Duterte bias has turned off majority of its readers.
As a result, many of the paper’s disgruntled readers have shifted to Philippine Star, which is about to become No. 1 in circulation, and other dailies such as The Times and Manila Bulletin.
As a columnist who left the paper in October 2018, I can attest to the Inquirer’s policy against President Rodrigo Duterte.
To the paper, Duterte could not do anything right. All of its columnists, except for me when I was still there, are anti-Duterte.
The paper’s motto “Balanced News, Fearless Views” should be “Biased News, Prejudiced Views.”
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The Inquirer started to deteriorate after the death of Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc, its editor in chief.
A feisty but amiable lady, Letty was the best editor in chief the Inquirer ever had.
The paper enjoyed its golden years with Letty at the helm of the newsroom.
She was incorruptible. Janet Lim Napoles, whose plunder of government funds the Inquirer exposed, tried unsuccessfully to bribe Letty.
Letty had a mind of her own when it came to what the paper should publish.
But she was fair and objective and stressed accuracy; she was the journalist’s journalist.
Letty was so adamant in upholding the Inquirer’s editorial independence that the Rufino-Prietos, the paper’s owners, could not dictate on her.
Letty cast such a giant shadow that her successor, Joey Nolasco, could not fill her shoes.
Joey, who has since retired from the paper, was a weakling.
When all the editors led by Joey Nolasco and I were detained at the Makati police station for hours on a libel case, I suggested to Joey that we conduct the paper’s editorial meeting at the station to give our detention prominence in the news the following day.
Nolasco refused and so missed the great opportunity of making journalistic history.
With Letty Magsanoc gone, the Inquirer started to run to seed.
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The Inquirer dispensed with my services after I was appointed special envoy to China on public diplomacy by President Duterte on Oct. 25, 2018.
The paper has a standing policy of not accepting in its editorial department people who work for the government, although I am not receiving any compensation as special envoy to China. My title is just honorific.
Be that as it may, I have no rancor toward the Inquirer where I worked for 31 years.
But since I’m already out of the paper I can already criticize it and cannot be accused of being disloyal.
By the way, the real reason why I was given my walking papers was after I criticized the paper’s editorial stance toward Mr. Duterte.
I had a running tiff with Raul Palabrica, the paper’s board chairman, for the paper’s anti-Duterte bias resulting in my being kicked out as a columnist.
My column was suspended for one month after I criticized the Inquirer for being completely biased against Digong.
During the presidential campaign, two of my columns were not published by the paper because they were about the candidate Rodrigo Duterte.
I kept my peace despite the repression of my freedom of expression through my column because I surmised, and rightly so, that the paper was taking the side of Duterte’s rival, Manuel “Mar” Roxas 2nd.
I thought to myself, any newspaper had every right to favor a candidate it deems best suited for a particular office.
But when I realized that the Inquirer had become a partisan of the Yellow cult, I had to say my piece and this got me into a head-on collision with the paper’s owners and editors.
This criticism may sound like sour grapes, but I swear it’s not.
I even look at my former paper with pity and I deeply sympathize with its current woes.
After all, the paper has made me a famous columnist and I am very grateful for it.