Ricardo “Dong” Puno, 76

VETERAN JOURNALIST and former press secretary Ricardo “Dong” Puno passed away on Tuesday, February 15 from complications of Parkinson’s disease. He was 76.

A lawyer by profession, Puno entered media as the host of the GMA public affairs program Viewpoint in 1984. The show aired for a decade, garnering many accolades and making Puno  a household name. In 1994, the broadcaster transferred to ABS-CBN, where he hosted the prime time talk program Dong Puno Live! for five years.

In addition to anchoring duties, Puno also served as vice president for the network’s news operations and senior vice president for news and current affairs from 1994 to 2000. 

Puno left his post at the Lopez-owned network in 2000 to serve as press secretary for then President Joseph Estrada. He ran the following year for a Senate seat but lost. Puno then returned to the network.

Media colleagues extolled Puno’s values and leadership. Ging Reyes, current ABS-CBN news chief,  said that the broadcaster saw his newsroom through momentous events in the 1990s. Nadia Trinidad, Chief Operating Officer of ANC, said that Puno, despite his work with the Estrada administration, encouraged journalists to  work with integrity.

Journalist Lynda Jumilla-Abalos, in a tweet on Tuesday, dubbed Puno  the “original king of talk.” 

“Dong’s professional credentials, lawyer and history teacher were priceless, but best of all he was a team player in GMA News,” said Tina Monzon Palma, journalist and CMFR board member. 

Later in his career, Puno anchored programs on Aksyon TV and DWIZ, as well, hosting the shows Kalibre 41 and Karambola respectively.

Puno was also a columnist for The Philippine Star and The Manila Times, and served as president of The Manila Times School of Journalism – now  the Manila Times College – and the Guagua National Colleges in Pampanga.

Puno was born in Manila in 1946, the oldest child of Ricardo Puno Sr., former Minister of Justice, and Priscilla Villanueva. He was the eldest of twelves siblings, including Robert Puno, former Interior Secretary.

Puno received his law education at the Ateneo De Manila University and Harvard Law School.

He is survived by his siblings, his wife, Christy, and sons, Ricky and Donnie.