The camp of Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Saturday justified its decision not to grant an interview with Jessica Soho by accusing the veteran journalist of being “biased” against his family.
Soho’s home network GMA, meanwhile, stressed that it’s only fair for the presidential candidates to be faced with “tough questions” as the “job of the presidency is tough.”
“The reason why Bongbong Marcos decided not to join the Jessica Soho show is founded on our belief that the hostess of said popular talk show is biased against the Marcoses, and therefore, we believe her questions will just focus on negativity about BBM (Bongbong Marcos),” lawyer Vic Rodriguez, Marcos’ counsel and spokesperson, said in a statement.
Rodriguez added that Marcos and his running mate, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, would rather participate in a forum that would ask them about how they plan to solve the “country’s lingering problems caused by the Covid-19 pandemic” and its “economic stagnation.”
“We believe, though, that this 2022 elections could be the most important elections in our lifetime where candidates like presidential aspirant Bongbong Marcos should be expected to present what his programs and plans are for the country to move forward with his economic plans, vision on education and digital infrastructure, employment creation, ensuring food security through a robust agriculture, how to bring the cost of power more affordable and all the way to our national sovereignty,” he explained.
Marcos’ counsel also argued that his “preparedness to lead, ability to govern and capability to be president” cannot be tested by his “mere appearance” on a television program.
“Presidential aspirant Bongbong Marcos’ duty is to the Filipino people and not to a particular TV show or program host,” Rodriguez averred.
“We will continue with our way of communicating direct to the people in so many equally significant shows, platforms and forums where all the attendees are allowed to present their visions, plans and platforms freely, unfiltered and unhindered by any biases,” he added.
GMA Network defended Soho — who it described as the “Kapuso news pillar”—from the allegations made by Marcos’ team.
“GMA Network takes exception to the statement of the camp of former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. that Kapuso news pillar Jessica Soho is supposedly biased against the Marcoses, the reason for the presidential candidate to decline participation on “The Jessica Soho Presidential Interviews,” it stated.
The media giant emphasized Soho’s reputation as a multi-awarded Filipina broadcast journalist.
“Throughout her career, Ms. Soho has consistently been named the most trusted media personality in the Philippines by both local and foreign organizations, a testament to her embodying the GMA News and Public Affairs ethos: ‘Walang Kinikilingan, Walang Pinoprotektahan, Serbisyong Totoo Lamang,’” GMA stated.
“This same ethos has guided Ms. Soho and the whole GMA News and Public Affairs organization, which is the most trusted media organization in the Philippines, according to the University of Oxford/Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism,” it added.
GMA has invited the five leading presidential candidates who had topped 2022 pre-election surveys. Only Marcos turned down the interview.
“In this must-see special, Ms. Soho boldly asks the presidential aspirants the questions that need to be asked — their intentions behind running for the position, the controversies thrown at them, their stand on pressing issues and their concrete plans should they be elected. The questions are tough because the job of the presidency is tough,” the network pointed out.
“We believe that this is an important exercise to inform the public about the candidates seeking their votes in Eleksyon 2022, to help them make the best, most informed choice on their ballots,” it added.
The four top presidential candidates who accepted the network’s invitation for a one-on-one interview with Soho were Vice President Leni Robredo; Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso; and Senators Panfilo Lacson and Manny Pacquiao.
In a social media post, Lacson also defended Soho, saying journalists’ duty is to “ask the hard questions.”
“Jessica Soho, biased? I was asked very hostile questions like my role during martial law, why I evaded arrest in 2010, my co-authorship and sponsorship of the Anti-Terror Law, human rights issues and other hard questions. I don’t think so. Like any journalist, it is her job,” Lacson said.
For Commission on Elections spokesperson James Jimenez, candidates for president and vice president in the upcoming elections “should commit to joining the Comelec debates which are due to begin next month.”
“Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates should commit, to the public whose votes they seek, that they will participate in the #PiliPinasDebates2022…,” Jimenez wrote in a social media post.
Jimenez has admitted earlier, though, that there is no existing law requiring candidates to participate in public debates.
“The Jessica Soho Presidential Interviews” is set to air on 22 January at 6:15 p.m.
While Marcos refused to be interviewed by Soho, his camp confirmed that he will join the presidential interviews of ABS-CBN hosted by Boy Abunda, an entertainment talk show host.