In tonight’s edition of TV Patrol, ABS-CBN anchor and chief correspondent Korina Sanchez delivered a report about the situation in Ormoc City, Leyte.
Curiously, Sanchez’ assignment in the said city came a day after she earned flak from netizens who lambasted her following her negative comments directed to Anderson Cooper of CNN International. The American journalist highlighted the slow government relief efforts for super typhoon Yolanda survivors.
“Hindi yata niya alam ang sinasabi niya (He’s not really aware of what’s happening on the ground),” Sanchez said of Cooper through her commentary program in DZMM Wednesday morning. A deluge of criticism against Sanchez, mostly shared online, followed shortly after. As noted by Rappler.com, Sanchez was hit on two fronts.
First, it is Cooper, not her, who’s actually reporting live on location. Second, Sanchez is married to the man who’s the de facto point man of the government’s disaster relief efforts – Interior Secretary Mar Roxas. And since Roxas is widely expected to run for president in 2016, any criticism about the government’s response to Yolanda’s aftermath will not serve his political ambitions well.
I first noted the possibility of Sanchez being put in an awkward situation last Sunday. During a live broadcast of her Sunday magazine show Rated K, Sanchez interviewed Secretary to the Cabinet Jose Rene Almendras. Political junkies should note that Almendras is allied with the Balay faction of President Benigno Aquino III’s cabinet, which is identified with Roxas and the ruling Liberal Party.
“Korina Sanchez reporting about the government relief efforts in Leyte led by her husband DILG Sec. Mar Roxas presents a clear conflict of interest,” I wrote on Facebook, while adding that this journalistic transgression may be set aside for a while because “these are extraordinary circumstances.” Nevertheless, it seems that the problematic situation really has a way of rearing its ugly head.
It’s not the first time that Sanchez lashed out at individuals she perceives as slighting Roxas. There’s ABS-CBN reporter RG Cruz (refresh your memories by reading this blog post) and Philippine Daily Inquirer columnist Conrado de Quiros. Both instances happened in 2009, shortly after Roxas gave up his presidential ambitions to be Aquino’s running mate.
More recently, Sanchez has earned the ire of Vice President Jejomar Binay’s camp. Binay is of course the man who defeated her husband three years ago. In 2011, Binay complained that Sanchez seems to be refraining from mentioning his name during broadcasts. Last year, Binay’s camp took offense when Sanchez allegedly described his as a “dark little evil spirit.”
This episode brings back to mind the controversy last year created by President Aquino’s decision to take a swing at news anchor and former Vice President Noli de Castro during the 25th anniversary celebration of TV Patrol.
As media ethicist Chay Hofilena pointed out, this was a situation “waiting to happen,” arguing that networks seem to be facilitating a revolving door for journalists who venture into politics. Like De Castro, Sanchez resumed her news reading duties much sooner than expected.
If Roxas indeed seeks the presidency by 2016, Sanchez is expected to step down from her journalistic activities within the next 18 months. Until then, there’s no reason to believe she won’t be involved in another conflict-of-interest situation.