news, Philippines, politics, television

Thoughts on Sereno Impeachment Hearings

The central character: Atty. Larry Gadon looks on during one of the latest episodes of the impeachment hearing against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno. (Photo credit: Manila Bulletin)

It is officially Week 3 of the so-called ‘Serenoserye’.

At 9:30 a.m. today, the sixth episode of the impeachment hearings against Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno will commence at the Batasan Pambansa. And based on the first five episodes of the ongoing series, all of the people involved have exhausted all the time and effort to reveal everything that is to know.

On average, each episode of the impeachment hearings last for seven to nine hours. Because of the severe length of the hearings, the media networks that are tasked to cover the event had a hard time keeping up, thanks in large part to other concurrent events that affect the country.

More often than not, live coverage of the impeachment hearings were rudely interrupted by a live appearance and address from either President Rodrigo Duterte or any of his staff (namely spokesperson Harry Roque). The President and his men’s constant interruptions have often made the hearings irrelevant at best.

It is always mandatory for news networks to cut from an ongoing Senate or House hearing to President Duterte once he begins to speak in public. After all, the executive branch is always a priority over all other branches of government.

But what baffles many is the treatment in which media outlets approach the hearings. On the good side, GMA News and Rappler provide an uninterrupted live stream of the impeachment hearings on YouTube, with GMA News using one that is exclusive online and not on traditional media.

However, the same cannot be said for ABS-CBN News and CNN Philippines. ABS-CBN News, in particular, provides viewers the feed from the ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC) and not one that is an independent online feed.

News5? Consider them extinct and moribund at this point.

With the impeachment hearings to continue until January 2018 at the latest, news outlets must find a way to maximize its coverage. There is no excuse for getting interrupted by another concurrent live event; someone should look at other manners with which the impeachment hearings are utilized.

If not, let’s just hope that Congressman Reynaldo Umali and the Justice Committee end each episode at the soonest possible time. Nine hours is just too exhausting to be honest.

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ASEAN Summit Nothing – News5 No Longer Involved (Mostly) in ASEAN Summit

The possible final straw: News5’s lack of involvement in the 2017 ASEAN Summit was an indication that the organization is nearing its end, and the emphasis towards sports only made it worse. (Logo courtesy of ASEAN)

One seemingly moribund news organization is obviously non-committal when it comes to the ASEAN Summit.

Perhaps the biggest political event in the Philippines this year, the 2017 ASEAN Summit had it all. Whether it is the first visit of U.S. President Donald Trump to the country or the countless hours of talks between the ASEAN member states and top nations such as the U.S., China, Canada and Australia, the four-day event was for the most part memorable.

But not all of the Philippines’ top networks were around to cover those whirlwind four days. Just ask News5.

As expected, Luchi Cruz-Valdes and co. made little noise when it comes to coverage of the ASEAN Summit. And despite assigning some of their reporters (if there is any) to cover the said event, not to mention providing some live coverage on social media, the ASEAN Summit was buried in the pecking order in favor of sensational crime stories.

At least sister network Bloomberg Television Philippines did its share. As for the main network, nada.

Blame ESPN5 for all of this. After all, it was Chot Reyes who basically killed ‘Aksyon sa Umaga’, cut ‘Aksyon Tonite’ in half, and turned ‘Aksyon sa Tanghali’ into a ‘Hoy Gising’ wannabe.

They may still have ‘Aksyon Prime’ as their primary news program, but then again it has become a constant distraction to ESPN5’s sports coverage.

I have already written a eulogy that paid tribute to News5 and its ‘proud’ heritage. But as the ASEAN Summit neared, I thought to myself,

“Perhaps there is still a way to save News5 from the verge of collapse'”.

As it turned out, Chot Reyes was no longer committed to help News5 and instead made ESPN5 his ‘baby’. With sports now dominating TV5 and (for the most part) sister network AksyonTV, there is no room for said network to make the ASEAN Summit a must-see event the same way its rivals from Timog, Mother Ignacia, Shaw Boulevard and Visayas Avenue did.

It is safe to say that the time is now to pay our last respects to News5. Chot Reyes can dissolve this ‘pain in his butt’ anytime he wants, because as it stands, this division’s pain and suffering is unbearable and impossible to heal.

Hopefully the remnants of News5 will find a new home soon in the event that it will be dissolved. Good luck.

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In Memory of News5

The death of News5 is all but finalized.

On Friday, November 3, TV5 management announced the cancellation of ‘Aksyon sa Umaga’, ‘Aksyon News Alert’ and ‘Aksyon Tonite’ to make way for the newly-rebranded ESPN5 block that will go full swing in December. The only newscasts retained by the network are ‘Aksyon sa Tanghali’ and ‘Aksyon Prime’.

The cancellation of these three programs marked the latest in a saga of changes that deepened News5’s problems. Whether it is the loss of several talents, questionable programming decisions, lack of resources or signal concerns, News5’s issues only served to undermine its abilities as a news-gathering force.

There is no need to discuss what went wrong as this blog already discussed in detail the many problems that News5 faced (and the potential solutions that would have helped). Instead, this article will look back at News5’s contributions during its storied but tenuous run.

News5 started the ‘news on FM radio’ revolution when they launched Radyo5 92.3 News FM back in 2010. A few months after, AksyonTV was born, and at the time, it was the only 24/7 all-Filipino language news channel on free TV.

They also went into a partnership with Bloomberg LP in 2015 and launched Bloomberg TV Philippines, the first Filipino business news channel. Other contributions by the network include News5 Digital, then the only online news channel in the country, and News5 newscasts produced in high definition.

Some of the Philippines’ most talented journalists also made News5 their home. These include current PCOO secretary Martin Andanar, the late Amelyn Veloso, the Tulfo brothers (Ben, Raffy and Erwin), Cheryl Cosim, Ed Lingao, Jove Francisco and former DOT spokesperson Cherie Mercado among others.

Finally, News5 did produce some quality programs of their own. Aside from the ‘Aksyon’ newscasts, some of News5’s award-winning shows include ‘T3’, ‘History with Lourd de Veyra’, ‘Kaya’ and ‘Alagang Kapatid’.

Overall, despite all the problems they have faced, News5 still tried its best to keep up with its more superior counterparts in ABS-CBN and GMA. Still, its inevitable demise has viewers thinking what might have been had they smartly made moves to benefit both the technical and the economical aspect of the organization.

Now that Chot Reyes is about to turn TV5 into an S+A clone (for lack of a better term), the promising organization that is News5 is all but a distant memory. The newscasts may keep it alive, but for all intents and purposes, this organization’s days are numbered.

Thanks for all the memories, News5. You’ll be sorely missed.

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Senate Hearing on Kian Delos Santos Killing Begins Today

A long afternoon and perhaps evening awaits news organizations in the Philippines.

At around 2:00 p.m. today, the Senate will conduct a hearing in relation to the death of Kian Delos Santos and all other drug-related killings. Expected to cover the hearings live on television will be CNN Philippines, GMA News TV (unless they break character and go with regular programming), DZMM TeleRadyo and the ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC).

News5, which has notoriously shunned any live broadcast of various news events on television and radio, will air the said hearing on their Facebook page and the News5Everywhere platform. And in case of unexpected interruptions by the aforementioned news networks (e.g. President Rodrigo Duterte’s live speeches), the live and uninterrupted broadcast of the hearing will be provided by the Senate’s official YouTube page.

It can be recalled that on Wednesday, August 16, 17-year-old Kian Delos Santos was shot dead by policemen during an anti-drug operation in Caloocan. Upon reexamination of Delos Santos’ corpse, it was revealed that a pair of gunshot wounds in the head and another in the back killed the youngster.

For the first of possibly many hearings conducted by the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, the following were invited to attend the probe:

  • Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Ronald dela Rosa
  • Various representatives of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Department of Justice (DOJ) and the PNP Internal Affairs Service (PNP-IAS)
  • Saldy delos Santos, father of Kian
  • Caloocan policemen who were allegedly involved in the killing
  • Three witnesses under the custody of Sen. Risa Hontiveros

Today’s hearing will mark the third time that the Senate conducted a probe regarding the spate of drug-related killings in the country. The first took place during September and October 2016, and a second hearing (infamous for the testimony of Arturo Lascañas) took place in March and April 2017.

Expect another marathon of a coverage later this afternoon as the Senate begins an intense and lengthy look at the death of Kian Delos Santos. Good luck.

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Radyo5 Should Let Go of Punto Asintado

The post-Erwin Tulfo era in ‘Punto Asintado’ is off to an unimpressive start.

Nearly a month after Erwin Tulfo left TV5 on his own terms, the show that Erwin left behind is still searching for a permanent and regular host. At the moment, four different hosts have filled in on ‘Punto Asintado’.

They are:

  • Mae Anne Los Baños
  • Maricel Halili
  • Alex Tinsay
  • Atty. Mel Sta. Maria

Call it an unstable bunch. While the four hosts are willing and able to fill the chair, their other roles within and beyond News5 prevent them from hosting ‘Punto Asintado’ on a regular basis.

Alex Tinsay, for example, is also the host of ‘Aksyon Solusyon’ on weekdays and ‘Metro Sabado’ on Saturdays. He is also one of the hosts of ‘The 700 Club Asia’ on the GMA family of networks.

Atty. Mel Sta. Maria is the host of ‘Relasyon’ alongside Gladys Lana-Lucas (by default; original host Luchi Cruz-Valdes no longer appears on the show since June). He also fills in for Orly Mercado on ‘Orly Mercado All Ready’ on occasion, and outside Radyo5, is the dean of Far Eastern University Institute of Law.

Both Mae Anne Los Baños and Maricel Halili serve as News5 reporters. Mae Anne was one of the anchors of ‘Balita Alas-Singko’ while Maricel hosts ‘Iba Yung Pinoy’ on Sunday afternoons.

The rotating host situation in ‘Punto Asintado’ is a microcosm of the overall situation that is going on at Radyo5 92.3 News FM. Throughout the past year, some of the station’s personalities left for various reasons, and the fact that Radyo5 executives have failed to fill in the gaps made it clear that the station’s days are numbered.

When every listener thinks of ‘Punto Asintado’, Erwin Tulfo will always come to mind. This show will always be identified with him, even though he had some co-hosts in Cheryl Cosim and Martin Andanar along the way.

Perhaps Radyo5 would be wise to cancel ‘Punto Asintado’ at this point because it makes no sense continuing the show without its most identifiable personality. The show is and will always belong to Erwin Tulfo regardless of where he goes.

As for the situation at the chair, Radyo5 may need to call Ed Lingao and Lourd de Veyra’s number. A new morning show with either one of them could mitigate the loss of one of Radyo5’s standout programs.

One can only hope that Radyo5 will do the right thing when it comes to the 8:00 a.m. weekday slot. Time is of the essence, so good luck to them in figuring out this mess.

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Time’s Up: Luchi Cruz-Valdes Must Retire The Mic

No one is as hard-working and determined as Luchi Cruz-Valdes.

The head of News5 is a do-it-all woman. Behind the scenes, she supervises the overall operations of the department, and on-screen, she anchors important programs and newscasts to occasionally critical acclaim.

Unfortunately for LCV, the ongoing situation within News5 is unbearable. Many of the department’s mainstays have departed for either greener pastures or a life of privacy, and the inability to find immediate replacements both within and outside the organization has put tremendous pressure on Luchi herself.

To make matters worse, Luchi was placed in the hot seat herself a number of times. There were rumors that she would step down as the head of News5, and yet these were put to rest.

And coming off recent surgery, Luchi’s on-camera work was significantly reduced of late. For all intents and purposes, she has relinquished her hosting job on ‘Relasyon’ in favor of the former head of Radyo5 Gladys Lana-Lucas, and her appearances on ‘Aksyon Prime’ and ‘ReAksyon’ were increasingly infrequent.

Still, TV5 has trust on Luchi Cruz-Valdes as far as on-screen roles are concerned. Which is why starting this Saturday, they gave the head of News5 a weekly debate series called ‘Manindigan’.

Airing every Saturday at 7:30 p.m., ‘Manindigan’ is an hour-long series that will tackle some of the issues that affect the country today. The series is essentially ‘ReAksyon’ in a forum format.

While ‘Manindigan’ will only be aired for a short period of time, it is clear that the on-air side of Luchi Cruz-Valdes is waning in significance. Last Monday, she anchored TV5’s coverage of the State of the Nation Address, but working the coverage by herself (with a little help from Ed Lingao) is career suicide considering her age and increased pressure of her job.

Perhaps the time has finally come for Luchi to retire the microphone and leave the anchor’s chair altogether. It would be better for her to focus on behind-the-scenes work full-time, something that contemporaries Ging Reyes, Marissa Flores and Armie Jarin-Bennett pride on doing.

No offense, but with News5 in must-improve or else mode, Luchi should focus on being the head of News5 instead of doubling as an on-screen talent at the same time. A commitment to restore News5 to its former glory is a must for her at this point.

Stepping aside may be the hardest thing to do, but for Luchi Cruz-Valdes, the time has finally come. Time to hand the reins over to younger journalists who are willing to gain experience in every way possible.

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