Tabloids focused on presidential race, covered Villar most

Written on June 11, 2010 – 3:34 am | by mediaandelections |

Tabloid coverage of the national elections
Fourth Monitoring Period
(March 28 to April 10, 2010)

Like the broadsheets, selected major tabloids focused overwhelmingly on the major presidential candidates to the virtual exclusion of  lesser-known candidates. From March 28 to April 10, a monitor of three tabloids also showed scant coverage of the vice-presidential and party-list elections.

These tabloids extensively covered the campaign sorties of the leading presidential candidates. Merely providing information on what was happening in the candidates’ campaigns every day, this “logbook-type” reporting of elections   added little  to the public’s understanding of issues related to the elections.

Period covered

The Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) monitored how three major Manila-based tabloids – Abante, Bulgar and People’s Journal – covered the national elections from March 28 until  May 10. The tabloids monitored did not publish on April 2 (Holy Thursday) and April 3 (Good Friday).

CMFR  reviewed not only their front-page reports but also those in the inside sections of the three tabloids. CMFR monitored 357 election-related stories, or 16.27 percent of the combined news hole of the three tabloids (2,194 stories).

The People’s Journal published the most number of election-related reports with a total count of 156 stories or 18.48 percent of its total news hole (844). Abante had  132 reports, while Bulgar had 69.

The tabloids, like the broadsheets, focused mostly on the presidential race. Compared to the 29 party-list related reports published during the period, the presidential race was mentioned in 234 reports, or 65.4 percent of the total number of election-related stories.

Stand alone photos (17) published during this period were in the People’s Journal (8) and Abante (9).

The monitor also showed that a significant chunk of the tabloids’ editorial section focused on the  national elections. There were one hundred twelve (112) election-related opinion pieces (out of the 305), and 31 of these were located in their entertainment sections.



Two hundred eighty-eight (288)  of  357 (or 80.7 percent) election-related reports including opinion pieces were in the inside sections. Two hundred forty-five (245) of the election-related stories were news stories. The People’s Journal published the most news stories  (135).

Bulgar, on the other hand, published more opinion pieces (58, including those in its opinion and entertainment sections) than news reports (13 in its inside pages).

Only 70 election-related reports were published on the front pages of Abante, Bulgar and People’s Journal. Abante had the most number of front page reports at 37. The front pages stories of the three tabloids were also  on the presidential race (50 out of  the 70).



Presidential candidates

NACIONALISTA PARTY presidential candidate Manuel “Manny” Villar Jr. dominated the pages of the three Manila-based tabloids monitored. Compared to other presidential candidates, Villar was mentioned 129 times.  Rep orts on Villar discussed his alleged involvement in the C-5 road project controversy, his political ads, his place in the latest survey rankings and his being the alleged secret candidate of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

He was closely followed by the Liberal Party’s Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, who appeared in 128 reports, including a story on the fake psychological report, being the consistent top presidential candidate in the surveys, and his relationshi with his sister Kris Aquino. Aquino was the most covered candidate in Abante, appearing in 52 reports compared to Villar’s 46.

Gilberto “Gibo” Teodoro was third, being reported on 75 times. Former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada trailed  him with 45 reports.

The least covered presidential candidates were Richard Gordon, who appeared only 13 times; Eddie Villanueva seven; JC Delos Reyes three ; Jamby Madrigal four; and Nicanor Perlas three.


The Vice-presidential candidates

The three tabloids covered vice presidential candidates Jejomar Binay (25), Loren Legarda (29) and Manuel “Mar” Roxas (28)  most. However, Binay was never mentioned at all in Bulgar.

LAKAS-KAMPI-CMD vice-presidential bet and actor Eduardo Manzano appeared most in  entertainment news: five out of six reports on him were in the entertainment section.

Other vice presidential candidates—e.g.,  Perfecto Yasay, Jay Sonza and Armando Chipeco Jr.– were never covered.


Senatorial candidates

Bangon Pilipinas (BP), Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL) and Ang Kapatiran Party (AKP) senatorial candidates were hardly reported on.

Most covered were Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) candidates Juan Ponce Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada, along with the Nacionalista Party’s Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., Adel Tamano and Gilbert Remulla, and  the Liberal Party’s Franklin Drilon and Ralph Recto. The People’s Journal covered Adel Tamano and Bong Revilla five times, while Lakas-Kampi-CMD’s Rey Langit, Silvestro Bello and Raul Lambino were mentioned four times.

Party-list groups

The party list groups were hardly covered. Only 29 out of the 358 (or 8.1 percent) election-related reports mentioned party-list groups and their nominees.

The most covered party-list group was Bayan Muna, which was mentioned nine times as lambasting other party-list groups such as 1-UTAK and Ang Galing Pinoy, and in connection with its representatives Satur Ocampo and Liza Maza. Bayan Muna and 1-UTAK were mentioned in the same two reports in Abante, with Bayan Muna accusing 1-UTAK and other party-list groups as being connected to Arroyo in one story, and questioning in another Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes’ leadership of 1-UTAK, a transport group.

Anakpawis was mentioned six times in stories on wage increases, anti-labor policies, and a noise barrage as a birthday gift for President Arroyo. Abante and Bulgar reported on Ang Galing Pinoy (AG) six times, focusing mostly on the issue of presidential son Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo’s representing the group, which is composed mainly of security guards and tricycle drivers.


Aquino’s sister Kris Aquino was in several reports (17),  beating the five least covered presidential candidates during the period. The People’s Journal alone covered her ten times, while Richard “Dick” Gordon, the most covered of the bottom five, was a subject in only eight stories. She was a subject in reports published mostly from April 7 to 10 after her son Baby James “endorsed”  Aquino  rival Villar’s name during  a campaign sortie in Bacolod.

The Liberal Party received the most coverage from the three tabloids, being a subject in 30 reports. The Nacionalista Party was mentioned in 28 reports. Both parties received more exposure as compared to other political parties, with the reports centering on the race between their respective presidential candidates.

Lakas-Kampi-CMD was also amply covered (29 times),  on account of its members’ defecting to other parties after the resignation of Gilbert Teodoro as its chair, inciting rumors that the party was crumbling.


The tabloid reports were mostly concerned with the “campaign conduct” theme (105 reports or 29.4 percent of the election-related reports).  Thirty-four of the 105 reports on “campaign conduct” featured candidate sorties.

Stories about political advertisements (20) and black propaganda (17) also dominated the campaign conduct category. Particularly dominant was the issue on Villar’s ads that claimed he grew up in a very poor family in Tondo, a claim that political columnists Billy Esposo and Solita Monsod debunked, and the alleged dirty tricks of the Nacionalista Party and Liberal Party.

Sixty-four (64) personality-oriented reports appeared in the three tabloids. The stories discussed the candidates’ plans with their families during Holy Week, or their characteristics as cited by their endorsers/supporters that made them fit for the position they were running for.


Contest and horse race-themed stories (56) also mostly on the Liberal Party and Nacionalista  Partycandidates, especially Noynoy Aquino and Manny Villar, and sometimes on the Lakas-Kampi-CMD candidates. Some of the stories touched on the survey rankings, and some focused on the candidates’ turfs. A People’s Journal March 28 report covered vice presidential rivals Loren Legarda and Mar Roxas on their knowledge of climate change issues.

President Gloria Macapagal  Arroyo was mentioned in 62 reports, often for her alleged “Villarroyo” and “Aquinorroyo” alliance with Villar. Arroyo’s non support for Gibo Teodoro, and Arroyo’s being  the next Speaker of the House were among the most dominant Arroyo-related themes discussed in the stories.

The  surveys were covered 50 times. If the actual survey results were not reported, the tabloidsthe had stories on candidates’ claiming or being labeled “high” or “low” in poll rankings.

Issues concerning the Commission on Elections (Comelec) were the subjects of 44 reports, among them on  the secrecy folder deal, Comelec statements on the automated elections and  the PCOS machines, and disqualification issues.

Development and policy issues were discussed in 32 reports. Stories on development issues mainly tackled the candidates’ platforms and policies. These policies were centered on labor and employment (six reports), taxes (five), education (three), health care (two), agrarian reform (two), and the environment (two). Alarmingly, 26 of these reports were published by the People’s Journal alone. Abante produced six and Bulgar had none. The People’s Journal produced reports of this kind featuring a candidate and what he or she wanted to contribute  to a particular sector. Notable was a column named “Daedalos” where two successive articles about all the presidential candidates’ health care platforms were published.


Political alliances, especially those of local candidates supporting national candidates and vice versa, were covered 18 times. Numerous reports appeared in  the People’s Journal on One Cebu, a powerful local party from  Cebu province that supported presidential candidate Gilberto Teodoro and vice presidential aspirant Loren Legarda.

Internal political party issues were discussed 15 times, and largely centered on Lakas-Kampi-CMD, yielding several stories after its standard bearer Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro resigned as chair from the party to allegedly focus on his campaign. Lakas-Kampi-CMD’s local candidates’ support, along with rumors of its local candidates losing trust in the party and defecting to others, were also covered.

Nine (9) stories featured celebrity endorsers, including Sarah Geronimo and Manny Pacquiao for Loren Legarda and Manny Villar.





Aquino had the most number of photos (eight) among the presidential candidates. Villar had five and Teodoro three. Gordon and Villanueva were featured in separate stand-alone photos of their campaign sorties in the People’s Journal.

Four photos of Edu Manzano appeared in Bulgar’s entertainment section. Legarda’s photos appeared twice in Bulgar’s entertainment section.

A photo of Ferdinand Marcos Jr. praying with his family appeared in People’s Journal.  Adel Tamano also had one in the entertainment section of the same tabloid. A stand-alone photo appeared in Abante’s news section, of Nacionalista Party senatorial candidate Satur Ocampo celebrating his birthday with vice presidential candidate Loren Legarda, and  senatorial candidates Ramon Mitra and  Tamano. Most of the senatorial candidates’ photos were mug shots.


The most covered candidates were also the most used news sources: Villar (25), Aquino (27) and Teodoro (14). Villar ranked as the top news source of Bulgar and the People’s Journal. On the other hand, Aquino was sourced by Abante 17 times.

Meanwhile, among the vice-presidential bets, Legarda was the most used source (11), followed by Binay (nine) and Roxas (seven).


Bulgar, which  published eight articles on the senatorial race, did not quote any senatorial candidate as its source. Two of these articles were editorials and had the writer/columnist as their sources. The other three stories  were sourced from Ruffa Gutierrez (who endorsed Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr.), a Pulse Asia survey and the Comelec.

Party-list candidates were cited only 13 times.

Pulse Asia survey results were cited 10 times, Social Weather Station six, and the Manila Standard Today two times. AGB Nielsen and PaP were also sourced in a report March 29 Abante report.

Lakas-Kampi-CMD was the most sourced (nine times) political party, with its deputy speaker Amelita Villarosa and Secretary General Ray Roquero as its main spokespersons.


More than half or one hundred ninety reports (190) contained background and context, while 150 reports (42 percent of the election-related reports) did not.

While this may come as a surprise, the tabloids, especially the People’s Journal that published the most number of reports, focused on the campaign sorties, alliances and  personal lives of candidates. These reports did not need much information for readers to understand. The People’s Journal alone produced about 56 reports of this kind.

Abante and  the People’s Journal published a total of 17 stand-alone photos, which provided no background. Most, if not all of these photos featured the candidates’ campaign sorties.

Most opinion pieces from the People’s Journal and Abante provided facts and enough data on their topics. But Bulgar’s editorial pieces, especially those written by opinion columnists, often offered hearsay information on issues surrounding the candidates.

An  column by Willie Baun in the People’s Journal of March 30 provided a historical account of Manny Villar’s “infomercial tear-jerker” about his brother Daniel dying of leukemia and argued that the ad could not be true.



Out of the 245 news reports, 134 or 54.7 percent were  biased for or against a candidate or party-list group. Positively-slanted reports totaled  50. Negatively-slanted reports comprised 84 or 34.3 percent of the total election-related news reports.

The People’s Journal had a tendency to publish one-sourced stories. Its April 5 banner story titled “Noynoy ‘dirt’” reported on Nacionalista Party senatorial candidate Gilbert Remulla’s claims that Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino set up a security agency and used his position as the son of former President Corazon Aquino to get contracts from government entities. The story did not get Aquino’s side of the issue.

A two-part series  on senatorial candidate Alex Tinsay also appeared in Abante’s editorial section. The piece discussed his career as a broadcast journalist, family life, and his platform.

A total of 112 opinion pieces appeared in this section among the tabloids.

Editorial pieces

Editorials and columns provided much space to the presidential elections. Again, Manny Villar was the most discussed candidate in the opinion pieces, with issues regarding his wealth and his being a businessman, his political advertisements and the infamous C-5 controversy.


The tabloids’ editorial sections followed the news trend, with the candidates’ campaign conduct activities (33 editorial reports all in all) topping all other themes. Personality-themed pieces came in next. Editorials containing “the Arroyo factor” were much in evidence with 20 pieces.

Opinion pieces in the entertainment section were mostly on Manzano and Villar on account of his endorsers Dolphy, Manny Pacquaio and association with Kris Aquino’s son, “Baby” James.

Some stories posted in the entertainment columns sounded like press releases. A Bulgar report written by Linda Endaya on Loren Legarda discussed how the latter finds plastic surgery acceptable. However, it provided a positive slant for Legarda, highlighting her beauty and simplicity. A similar report appeared in the People’s Journal entertainment section about rumors of senatorial candidate Adel Tamano guesting as a video jockey on Myx, a music channel. In the end, the article described Tamano as a “young” and “good-looking” lawyer.

CMFR Monitor of the News Media Coverage of 2013 Elections

Given the special nature of the 2013 campaign and elections, the media’s role as credible and critical sources of information and analysis during the election season bears watching. The Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) is monitoring the news media coverage of the 2013 campaign and elections in the context of both the special circumstances in which they were taking place, and the opportunity for improved and meaningful reporting and analysis the exercise offered to the Philippine media. 

CMFR has been monitoring media coverage of Philippine elections since 1992, and in every instance has made recommendations towards the improvement of media coverage. These efforts have not been unrewarded. Changes in media coverage incorporating some of the recommendations of the CMFR monitor in 2004 were evident, for example, in the media coverage of the 2007 elections.

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