Did the camp of Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia finally gag veteran Sun.Star columnist Bobby Nalzaro?
Since the start of the new year, Nalzaro’s Saksi column no longer appears in Sun Star Cebu and its Cebuano tabloid Sun Star Superbalita.
Asked yesterday if it was true that his 15-year-old column was discontinued in 2013 because of his critical stand against the suspended governor, Nalzaro was at first hesitant to issue a statement.
He later sent a text message confirming the report.
He said that he was advised to stop writing because the Sun Star management accommodated the request of elders in the Garcia family.
“I am on sabbatical leave. Admittedly, I am hesitant to discuss this issue because it’s an internal matter between me and Sun Star. But since this came out, well, I was advised by my editors to stop writing,” Nalzaro said.
“They were frank and candid in telling me that the management just accommodated the request (not pressure ha) of the Garcia elders for me to stop writing until the Capitol conflict is resolved maybe because we differed in our views. I’m one of those who called on Gwen to step down while exhausting all legal remedies,” he said.
“Kinsa man ko mo-insist? (Who am I to insist?) It’s their prerogative. After all, journalism like broadcasting is only a privilege and not a right. And it’s the management that can take that privilege from us (media practitioners). I can understand them and respect their decision,” Nalzaro said in a text message.
Before the stoppage, Nalzaro’s Saksi column appeared thrice a week in Sun Star Cebu and four times a week in the Cebuano tabloid Superbalita. He started writing for the tabloid 18 years ago.
His critical stance of Garcia’s administration is well known and covered other topics before the Dec. 19, 2012 suspension like the Balili land purchase, the Suroy Suroy tourism program, and even her temper flares.
Isolde Amante, editor in chief of Sun Star Cebu, confirmed that Nalzaro’s column had been suspended.
“Yes, Mr. Nalzaro’s column is suspended and it is the decision of the Sun Star board,” Amante said.
She clarified that Sun Star’s board of directors is headed by another set of Garcias and not the family of Governor Garcia.
Amante declined to discuss the reason for the suspension of Nalzaro’s column saying it would be unfair to Nalzaro to do so.
The chairman of the board and founding publisher, Jesus “Sonny” Garcia Jr., is a first cousin of Gov. Gwen Garcia.
Their fathers, the late Jesus Garcia Sr. and Deputy Speaker Pablo Garcia are brothers.
Garcia family members occupy positions in the board and top management. The president, Julius “JJ” Garcia Neri Jr., is a nephew of the governor.
Nalzaro has the distinction of being the only full-time tri-media Cebu journalist in English and Cebuano. Aside from writing a column in Sun.Star’s two papers , he is the anchor of GMA 7’s Balitang Bisdak daily newscast and is station manager of dySS where he anchors a morning radio show.
In a separate interview, Raymond Alvin Garcia, assistant vice president for legal and administration of Sun Star Publishing Inc., said he did not know the details of why Nalzaro’s column was stopped.
He directed queries to the editors saying he was only focusing on legal and administrative matters of the paper.
“Well, there was really no request, whatsoever, in fairness to the governor and their family,” Raymond said.
He, however, said that in clan gatherings, the governor’s family would complain about how critical Nalzaro was of Gwen in his columns.
“Of course, in family gatherings, moingon jud na nga si Bobby sige’g atake ni governor pero nakahibawo naman ka, kami igo ra man mi maminaw. Di gyud mi mobuhat og action ba. Kapila bitaw na gibira sa mga columnist sa Sunstar (Of course, in family gatherings, they would say to us that Bobby has been attacking the governor, but we would just listen. We would not take any action. There were many times Sun.Star columnists attacked her before this) ,” Raymond said.
“There was no request, padungogdungog ra siguro sila nga si Bobby sigeg atake, you know they would just state issues, ipaklaro lang nga si Bobby Nalzaro…maybe Bobby doesn’t know the issues, kana ra gyud, there’s no formal request whatsoever (There was no request. They just made it known that Bobby has been attacking them. They would just state issues… they would that just make the issues clear to Bobby Nalzaro… maybe Bobby doesn’t know the issues. That’s just it. There’s no formal request whatsover),” Raymond said. /Jhunnex Napallacan, Correspondent