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60th Anniversary Celebration of GMA Network, Inc.
His Excellency BENIGNO SIMEON AQUINO III
President of the Philippines
On the occasion of The 60th Anniversary Celebration of GMA Network, Inc.
[Delivered at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel, July 30, 2010]
Atty. Felipe Gozon; Mr. Gilberto Duavit, Jr.; Tito Nards Jimenez; Mr. Gualberto Duavit, Sr., my mentor in the House of Representatives during my first term; Your Excellencies of the Diplomatic Corps; former Senate President Jovito Salonga, Chairman Emeritus of the Liberal Party; former Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban and former Chief Justice Puno; Secretary Layag; members of the Board of Directors, officials and employees of the GMA Network; fellow workers in government;
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen; mga Kapuso:
Let me begin by congratulating the men and women behind GMA Network on the occasion of your 60th anniversary. I recognize that while you are a private corporation, you have played a vital role in strengthening our democracy.
It is evident today how far you have come since the early days of your organization. You are much larger now, with more programs that reach a wider audience here and abroad. While you have clearly embraced change over the years, your commitment to report the truth has stood the test of time and remains the key to your success.
I remember during the dark years of martial law, GMA-7 persisted in keeping the public informed despite the risks of censorship and even to the safety of your reporters. Working under the yoke of a dictatorship, GMA7 kept the flickering light of truth alive during that difficult and dangerous time.
GMA-7 also touched my life in a very personal way. It was the only TV station that covered the assassination of my dad, Benigno S. Aquino Jr., and his historic wake and funeral. It was also the TV station where my mom, former President Corazon C. Aquino, made her television debut on August 21, 1984. You were also present in her historic wake and funeral, which we will be commemorating in two days.
For this, and for your courage in delivering the news for our people, I am extremely grateful.
I am also pleased with the publication of a coffee table book to chronicle your achievements in the last sixty years. You have certainly made a positive impact on the lives of so many Filipinos through stories that are not only worth telling, but are also worth remembering.
As I mentioned in the SONA, we are confronted with huge social and economic problems whose solutions require the participation of Filipinos from all walks of life. I will need your help to accurately convey to the nation our current state of affairs, and how our people can do their part in the next six years.
I remember watching the “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea” on this channel as a boy. That program sparked in me an abiding interest in science. The untouchables impressed upon my impressionable mind the long arm of the law and the certainty of judgment. This ideal is of course something we are trying to turn into a reality.
This demonstrates the immense power you have to influence your viewers. However, such a power comes with the attendant burden of making sure it is wielded to enlighten and inform and not just to entertain.
There is a debate that you occasionally have about whether you should use more airtime particularly when viewership is high to strengthen your bottom-line or to expose people to socially relevant programming. But let me ask you, is your healthy bottom-line not a product of programming that has contributed to a stable and progressive society? Do we grow as a people if we have too much airtime devoted to pure entertainment? Doesn’t programming that enhances good governance and encourages civic action; that advocates for the environment and ethical business practices also contribute to a longer term bottom-line?
I am not just a viewer. As your President, I am your partner. This administration will defend your right to free expression. This administration will accept criticism from you. I believe you have a right and an obligation to encourage public discourse but I hope that it is the type of discourse that leads to consensus, one that will ultimately lead to action.
I am counting on you to be part of this difficult but worthwhile journey of turning our country around. In turn, you can count on my support. Working together, we can enhance democracy and make it real, not just for those who have more in life, but more so for those who have less.