GMA News denies reporter removed from Palace coverage over Saksi report

GMA’s net income during the three-month period surged 246 percent to P2.02 billion from P583 million in the first quarter last year.
GMA NEWS Reporter Joseph Morong

MANILA (AdChoiceTV News) — GMA News Online rebuffed speculations that its award-winning reporter Joseph Morong was removed from covering Malacañang over a fact check report on the Duterte administration’s pandemic response.

This comes months after the report in question, aired in Saksi, was taken down from the network’s social media platforms. Morong announced his reassignment not long after.

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In a statement posted on its official social media channels Sunday afternoon, GMA News said the removal was due to “deficiencies in the report” which “did not conform to our standards of fairness and balance.”

“Joseph Morong’s reassignment is not related to a report that aired on Saksi as some have speculated. Saksi producers wrote that report and Joseph was just asked to voice it,” the network’s news arm said. 

“Unrelated to this, Joseph was given another assignment, a move which is common in most, if not all, newsrooms where reporters do not stay in one beat their entire careers.”

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Morong will also continue to anchor the online newscast Stand for Truth, the network also said in its statement. 

What happened?

The Saksi fact check presented a timeline on the government response to the coronavirus pandemic as President Rodrigo Duterte was making claims that his administration did not fall short.

“Right after the [World Health Organization] advisory, the following day — or at least within 48 hours, we already had the task force, the task force we see today,” Duterte said on April 15 of this year.

The report pointed out that the country’s flight ban on Wuhan, China was put in place only on January 25 and was limited to that province. 

“As of this time, I am not for it. It would not be fair,” Duterte said four days later when asked about a possible China-wide travel ban.

The Saksi report came out and was later taken down in April, though the network remained mum over questions about its move at the time.

On May 3, Morong announced he would no longer be covering the president’s addresses. “If this is [President] Duterte’s only ‘Talk to the People’ address this week, this might be the last summary you will get from me. It’s been a privilege to serve you,” Morong tweeted.

Speculations over his removal from the Palace beat were refueled Saturday night after GMA News reposted an article titled “From Yolanda to Mamasapano, Aquino admin had share of flaws.” This came just days after the death of former president Benigno Aquino on Thursday.

Users on social media argued that the newer report’s critical tone toward the Aquino administration is in contrast to GMA News’ cordial coverage of the Duterte government. Many of Aquino’s officials and allies now form part of the opposition.

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Heavy pressure

GMA Network’s rival, ABS-CBN Corp., was shuttered in July of last year after a House panel voted to kill its franchise application. 

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier vowed to shut down the broadcast giant if he had his way, though the president is aligned with a supermajority in both chambers of Congress where his words have historically held sway.  

Vice President Leni Robredo then warned that threats on ABS-CBN’s franchise could affect reportage.

“It’s not far-fetched to think that this could change the editorial choices of other media organizations because of the pressure mounted against ABS-CBN,” Robredo said in a statement.

/ITC — AdChoiceTV News (Manila)

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