Focus on presidential race: Coverage on candidates ramp up before COC filing

THE FILING of certificates of candidacy has shifted into high gear the coverage on presidential candidates even before the October 8 deadline. 

Media  kept track of the presidential aspirants who had declared their candidacies or had been endorsed by political parties from September 19 to October 1, 2021. 

Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, who launched his campaign with Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, got the 30-minute block time on major news channels on September 8. 

Amid the PDP-Laban party infighting, boxer-turned-senator Manny Pacquiao accepted the presidential nomination by Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel’s PDP-Laban faction on September 19. 

Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso, followed on September 21, surprising the public with his choice for vice president—Doc Willie Ong, the social media personality whose free medical advice online has gained a huge following here and with OFWs abroad. 

On September 30, after months of deliberation, 1Sambayan announced its endorsement of Vice President Leni Robredo. Aired live on several media platforms, a virtual forum recalled the coalition’s objective to build a united political front against the Dutertes and their allies in 2022. 

In recent weeks, media  also monitored those candidates whose intentions had not yet been formally declared. These included former Senators Antonio Trillanes and Bongbong Marcos, Senator Bong Go, and Mayor Sara Duterte. 

CMFR’s content analysis showed the most number of stories on those whose candidacies had moved forward during the week: Moreno and Leni Robredo. Go, however, is an exception as he gets from some newspapers a daily measure of print space, even when the stories lack relevance or conventional news values. In the week that could have justifiably focused on either Robredo or Moreno, Go was the subject of the highest number of News stories. In contrast, TV coverage stayed clear of the  Bong Go fever which has afflicted some publications since the former aide of President Duterte declared his political ambitions. 

CMFR monitored the reporting by selected daily broadsheets (Philippine Daily Inquirer, The Philippine Star, Manila Bulletin, The Daily Tribune, Manila Standard and The Manila Times) and major primetime newscasts (ABS-CBN 2’s TV Patrol, GMA-7’s 24 Oras, TV5’s Frontline Pilipinas, and CNN Philippines’ News Night) from September 19 to October 1, 2021. 

Print coverage

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Go dominated print coverage with 34 reports, 20 from TheTribune alone; eight reports from The Times; six reports from The Star. Moreno was a close second with 33 reports, and Robredo making the third (27 reports). Marcos had 23 reports; Pacquiao 15, and Sara Duterte 14. Lacson and Trillanes lagged behind with nine  and five reports, respectively.

Broadcast coverage

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Robredo (45 minutes and 44 seconds) took the lead in broadcast coverage. Without any  developments on the Marcos front, Marcos junior, with 15 minutes and one second, was at the bottom of the list: Sara Duterte (12 minutes and 56 seconds), Trillanes (three minutes and 56 seconds) and Lacson (Two minutes and 12 seconds) also lagged behind in print. Notably, there were no broadcast reports on Go during the monitor period. 

Elections which involve citizens in direct action about their governance heighten the role of the press as watchdog. Prominence has long ruled as a news convention. Prominence can signify eminence or achievement. But this should not be presumed in the field of politics. A public position makes someone prominent whether the official does well or not. Many personalities are more prominent just by media exposure.  It would be wise to turn a page during this electoral season to weigh whether those already prominent should get more coverage. 

Coverage in this period must be subject to journalistic evaluation. Does this help the voter make  wise selections in the voting booth? Does this piece of news help the public assess the candidates’ record of performance?  In preparation for 2022, journalists must do their part to help citizens vote wisely. This can begin by building up name recall and prominence based on integrity, intelligence, common sense, character, competence, and a quality mostly lost to those in power, dedication to Filipinos most in need. 

CMFR will provide content analysis as we move through this pre-campaign period and will include not just the numbers but also analysis of discourse on issues.


Notes on the filing of Certificates of Candidacy (COC)

OCTOBER 1

  • Senator Manny Pacquiao filed his COC for president.

OCTOBER 2

  • Senator Bong Go filed his COC for vice president.
  • Davao Mayor Sara Duterte filed her COC for Davao mayor.

OCTOBER 4

  • Manila Mayor Isko Moreno filed his COC for president.

OCTOBER 6

  • Senator Panfilo Lacson and Bongbong Marcos filed their COCs for president.

OCTOBER 7

  • Vice President Leni Robredo filed her COC for president.