The Senate hearing this week on P660 million in loans that the Development Bank of the Philippines granted businessman Roberto Ongpin was a doozy.
The ABS-CBN News Channel broadcast the hearings live for a while but gave up when viewers began zoning out during the discussion on behest loans and stocks and banking principles that lasted for hours.
Even the news websites, usually on fire with breaking news whenever the Senate holds hearings, were oddly silent.
Reporters and editors either found the story too boring or too confusing for blow-by-blow accounts.
Behind the scenes, though, things were slightly more exciting. Two independent sources told Indolent Indio that a reporter not usually assigned to the Senate was there for the hearing.
The reporter was not there to cover the hearing. He was there to make sure it was covered right. And by right, we mean, the way the reporter’s principal wanted it covered.
The reporter is said to have gone the rounds of the Senate press office to offer his colleagues money in exchange for making it look like Ongpin engaged in insider trading and in bypassing the DBP’s rules on loan applications.
We do not know if Ongpin, former President Ferdinand Marcos’s old crony and trusted adviser, was shown preferential treatment by the DBP through loans that were processed and released within two weeks after they were filed.
We do know that somebody wants the public to think so.
The reporter, our sources say, is from a broadsheet with an office in the port area. Hypocritically (but not ironically), he usually files stories from a government branch charged with being fair and impartial.
We’re not ones to judge, but reporting and PR work should not go hand in hand.
Granted, Ongpin got rich by pandering to Marcos while he was trade secretary of the Marcos and Pals Club, but nailing him with unproven allegations is no way to bring him before the bar of justice. Which, incidentally, is where Rascally Reporter can usually be found.