MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno S. Aquino III on Monday called on the media for balanced reporting, and urged them to highlight positive news rather than dwell on negativism that drives foreign tourists away.
President Aquino was the guest of honor at the Philippine Press Institute's (PPI) 16th National Press Forum on "Media Accountability and Public Engagement" and annual membership meeting in Pasay City.
He noted that before the imposition of Martial Law, news reporting was based on the principle of "Get it first and get it right." These days, he said, it is the stories' public impact that is foremost for the media, who apologize later when the facts are inaccurate.
He mentioned a rumor that came out on Twitter about him being seen on a date in Greenhills on a weekday. The President was referring to a Tweet by actor Edu Manzano last March: "PNoy and Grace Lee spotted at Promenade Greenhills today. In the middle of the day. To be fair, it IS a nice day for a leisurely stroll."
Manzano quickly admitted that what he tweeted was "unconfirmed gossip" and apologized for the "confusion."
The Manzano tweet was picked up by print and broadcast entities.
The President said the rumors came out first before any clarification.
He said there was no truth to the report and that he was at a meeting of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) during the time he was supposed to be dating.
The President also lashed at negative reports which he said form the basis for travel advisories of other countries.
"Even without any direct threat in the country, people from other countries tend to think twice if it's safe to visit the Philippines. Just think of the effect of these negative news," he said.
He said the country would reach its target of 10 million tourist arrivals if more positive news were reported, such as the recent conviction of carnapping gang boss Raymond Dominguez after just one year and four months of litigation.
"If we are able to balance and think that every word has an effect on every Filipino, I'm sure we would be able to collectively achieve our goals for the country," Aquino said.