15th PH President just like ‘one of the boys’ | Inquirer News

15th PH President just like ‘one of the boys’

By: - Deputy Day Desk Chief / @TJBurgonioINQ
/ 05:34 AM June 25, 2021

Noynoy Aquino

Former president Benigno S. Aquino III. (AFP FILE PHOTO)

MANILA, Philippines — Even when he was still a congressman representing his home province of Tarlac, there were times when the late former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III acted like he was no VIP, easily striking conversations and hanging out with the gaggle of journalists covering the House.

The bachelor political scion would be flitting in and out of the press office for a chat, sometimes even joining the reporters for an after-work drink—he with his can of soda, they with their beer or wine.


“He didn’t drink liquor, but he was one of the boys,” a newsman, who became a close friend of Aquino, said of the country’s 15th president who died at the age of 61 on Thursday morning.


It therefore didn’t come as a surprise that when Aquino became president on June 30, 2010, he appointed reporter-columnist, Rey Marfil, to be one of his undersecretaries at the Presidential Communications and Operations Office.

Marfil would become a fixture in Aquino’s press briefings, whether at Malacañang, inside a mud-soaked classroom in a storm-battered town, or onboard presidential flights abroad.

Making time

Far from being aloof and despite the trappings of power, Aquino struck the press corps as someone who always strove to be transparent and forthright, making time to brief reporters on hot-button issues after a hectic day.

Even in his trips overseas, he didn’t mind facing the journalists late at night—say, at an Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit—and then fielding more questions about local issues in Manila than about the agenda of the trip. He was always game—so long as he had a glass of Coke close by.

Still, he and the press were not without uneasy moments.

When he guested before the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (Focap), several months before stepping down from office, Aquino spoke of a strained relationship between his administration and the media.


‘Constructive criticism’

He said the media had the tendency to sensationalize, become accusatory and focus on the negative rather than engage in “more constructive criticism.”

“It cannot be true that there are only negative things happening in the Philippines today—that nothing has changed; that we are still apathetic and cynical; and that one shortcoming becomes reason enough to discount the whole,” he said at the Focap gathering.

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After he reverted to being “Citizen PNoy” in June 2016, he remained in touch with some of his media friends, whose unforgettable images of the man include him hosting parties for them or their families at the Palace, treating them to a song or two. A recurring favorite in his repertoire: Freddie Aguilar’s “Estudyante Blues.” INQ


TAGS: Malacañang, Media, Noynoy Aquino

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