One major angle missing from the news items about Jiggy Manicad’s hiring as a TV5 anchor was his failed Senate run in 2019. Granted, he wasn’t the first journalist to attempt a career in politics – his former Reporter’s Notebook co-host Maki Pulido and Winnie Monsod are examples – but Manicad’s case is more problematic, and that’s why we are writing this.
Why this is an issue that needs to be highlighted and must not go under the radar is because Manicad, formerly of GMA-7, will soon become a primetime news anchor at the Kapatid Network – and this is simply troubling given his history.
It was only four years ago when Manicad ran for the Senate, vying as an independent candidate. One might assume that this choice would signify his independence and resistance to conforming to the status quo. However, this wasn’t the case. Backed by then-Davao Mayor Sara Duterte’s Hugpong ng Pagbabago party, Manicad campaign was marred with negative press due to his questionable behavior and stance on the issues.
Motivated by an ambition to win, Manicad made concerted efforts to appeal to President Rodrigo Duterte’s base, the DDS, agreeing with most of his key policies and talking points, including federalism, lowering the age of criminal responsibility, and the issue of EJKs or extrajudicial killings brought by his bloody war on drugs.
In the process, Manicad underwent a notable transformation during the campaign period, morphing into a “trapo” or political butterfly, one who would do anything and say anything just to win an election.
What’s worse, Manicad also took a blind eye and acted as a denier when asked about Mr. Duterte’s persistent and often uncontrollable attacks on the press, asserting that there was no atmosphere of fear during his administration.
When asked by The Chiefs, for example, to comment on the cases filed by the government back then against a media colleague, Rappler CEO Maria Ressa, Manicad also bought Mr. Duterte’s hook, line and sinker, saying that there was a clear basis for these cases, as he believed she and her online news website violated the constitution. (It’s worth noting that Ressa has since been cleared of multiple tax evasion cases.)
Manicad, of course, drew widespread backlash after that, with his statements either being made fun of or loathed by his colleagues in the media, including this very own website.
By all measures, Manicad’s actions and behavior during that election had compromised his journalistic integrity, and GMA-7’s lack of interest to put him back on the air was a clear indication of that.
And this is why we should ask TV5: why was his hiring necessary? Why did they choose someone with a history of betraying his profession? Given his record, how can he now portray himself as an unbiased newsman, someone who’s, to borrow his old network’s slogan, “Walang kinikilingan, walang pinoprotektahan,” when we all know where he stands and whom he allied himself with?
But Luchi Cruz-Valdes and her team seemed to have shrugged off these concerns when they appointed him as the third co-anchor of Frontline and gave him a lucrative exclusive network contract.
“Jiggy is a face of news, and we need more faces in news, and we’re so happy that we finally got a face that finally packs in all the punch we need…para maipakita natin sa mga manonood natin na seryoso tayo sa paghatid ng mga balitang kumpleto ano, kumpletos rekados, malalim at mabilis ang pagkuha. Dyaan kilala si Jiggy eh,” she said during his contract signing earlier this week.
Cruz-Valdes, for all her accomplishments as a journalist, doesn’t have a good track record when it comes to helming a news organization. This is certainly just another good example.
Inside TV5 and even Cignal TV, we are hearing disapproval over Manicad’s move to the MediaQuest family, with some questioning why the management had to do this.
“Hindi ba sila tiwala na kaya ni Julius at Cheryl sa primetime at tumataas na ratings?” asked one TV5er who spoke to us on condition of anonymity.
Another said, “Madaming magagaling at matagal na dito na beterano at walang bahid ng pulitika. Hindi namin maintindihan kung bakit kailangan namin siya. Maraming dapat unahin dito.”
If the original plan pushes through, Cruz-Valdes will officially be retiring sometime in 2024, ending what has been a tumultuous run at TV5. If this is what she thought would bring in more viewers to Frontline, or be her legacy, it appears that she has fallen short on both counts.
As for Manicad, it might be the opportune time for him to reinvent himself and assure the public that he won’t exploit this new role to advance his future political agendas or protect his allies in the government. All eyes will be watching him.
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