Friday, April 24, 2015

My 65 years as a journalist (2)

By Emil Jurado
Continued from yesterday

I recall that we alighted at the old Hotel Filipina along Padre Faura at the corner of Roxas Boulevard, and I was taken to a suite where a fat, tobacco-smoking man sat. He told me to sit down in front of him.
The man told me that he was a friend of one of the Monetary Board members I had implicated in my exposé; and that he only wanted me to present his side in the newspaper. “Yes sir, of course, I will,” I said.
The fat man, whom I later recognized as somebody from Cavite who had killed someone else along Dasmarinas Street, told me just to wait for their press release, and that I had to stay at the hotel suite meantime.
It was already midnight and I could not even call my wife – she must have been so worried that night. At around 6 o’clock the next day, some other men came and gave me the press release where a Monetary Board member explained his side.
Truth to tell, I was so scared, I did not sleep a wink that night.
As soon as I was released that morning, I went home explaining everything to my worried-sick wife. I called up my elder brother Wilie, who said that they would take me to then-President Ramon Magsaysay. When I explained everything to the President, who read all about it, he asked me if I could name three who could take the place of the three Monetary Board members I exposed. I said yes.
I recall naming the late Jimmy Velasquez, UP Professor Vicente Sinco and Agriculture Secretary Amado Dalisay, all known for their independence of mind, probity and integrity.
I was told that security men from the Armed Forces of the Philippines would be assigned to guard me, my wife and children. As you all know, having security guards at all times, even to accompany you to the toilet, is no picnic. I had to pay for their meals and give them accommodations. Those were trying moments for my children who had to have security in school and especially my wife, who has a lady security to accompany her even to the restroom.
But, it was all worth it, I suppose because of my exposé, I was given a special award for my journalism work by the Stanvac oil company. I still have that plaque hanging in my memorabilia room.
In all, I spent 17 years at the defunct Philippines Herald as business editor, then as editorial director and columnist. But I got restless and wanted more challenge.
Thus, when my good friend the late Bobby Benedicto asked me if I would accept a job at Channel 9 along Roxas Boulevard set up by his Kanlaon Broadcasting System (KBS), I readily accepted his offer. I became director for public affairs. ABS-CBN of the Lopezes as then was going strong, and so was Channel 5 of the Roceses, and The Manila Times.
Channel 7, then run by Boby Stewart was no challenge though, not until the Gozons, Duavits and Jimenezes bought out Stewart and his wife, who was really the founder of the network.
So, I joined the Benedictos’ radio-television network, not knowing that on Sept. 21 midnight, Martial Law would be proclaimed by President Marcos.
With the proclamation of Martial Law, press freedom was not only curtailed; it was suppressed. I knew and realized this because I was President of the Manila Overseas Press Club at that time.
I was appointed by Marcos as a member of the Media Advisory Council (MAC) in charge of foreign media; Rey Pedroche was in charge of radio and television.
MAC was a powerful agency at that time, giving permits to the reopening of radio and television not only in Metro Manila but nationwide. The Council’s chairman, Primitivo Mijares, was the big cheese getting orders directly from Marcos. Pedroche and I just said “yes” to everything Mijares, who was also columnist of the Daily Express, said. He was a real Marcos crony.
When the Benedicto KBS radio and television network took over the ABS-CBN building in Quezon City, I had several talk shows on air, and had a daily radio commentary.
With the censorship of the press ongoing, I thought of an idea to escape censorship in broadcast. With the permission of Benedicto and then KBS general manager, Buddy Tan, I formed the Kapisanan ng mga Brodcasters as Pilipinas (KBP) to undergo self-censorship. It worked and I became the first KBP president.
Continued tomorrow

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