Walden Bello blasts GMA for exclusion of Ka Leody

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FILE PHOTO: Philippine legislators Teddy Brawner Baguilat (L), Walden Bello (C) and Emmeline Aglipay (R) brandish Philippine flags and placards in Manila on July 18, 2011, as they announce their plans to make a special visit to the Spratly islands chain in order to assert the country's claim to the outcroppings amid rising tensions with China over the area. (Photo: JAY DIRECTO/AFP via Getty Images)
FILE PHOTO: Vice presidential aspirant Walden Bello (C) brandish Philippine flag and placard in Manila on July 18, 2011. Together with former Philippine legislators Teddy Brawner Baguilat (L) and Emmeline Aglipay (R), they announced their plans to make a special visit to the Spratly islands chain in order to assert the country's claim to the outcroppings amid rising tensions with China over the area. (Photo: JAY DIRECTO/AFP via Getty Images)

Vice presidential candidate and former Akbayan Party-list representative Walden Bello called out GMA Network on the exclusion of presidential aspirant and labor leader Ka Leody de Guzman, saying that it was “a blow against fairness in media and democratic inclusion.”

“GMA is so smug congratulating itself on the so-called success of the Jessica Soho presidential interviews last night. Bongbong Marcos's no show was, however, eclipsed by a greater injustice: GMA's decision to exclude Leody de Guzman on class grounds,” he said.

Bello elaborated on the issue, calling it “a circular logic based on class bias” and a “hypocrisy on the part of a management that is supposed to be dedicated to freedom of access to the press.”

“No wonder the people are tuning out to the elite media. All they do is to stage lovefests among the rich and powerful like the Jessica Soho show last night,” he said

The former congressman claims that the labor leader’s low ratings is due to the network not giving him enough exposure.

“The reason they said was they only wanted the top 5 people in the surveys. This is [a] self-fulfilling prophecy,” he said. “Leody has low ratings because GMA does not give Leody coverage to expose him to the people because he cannot pay for ads, like the others funded by billionaires do, then it says you can't participate since you have such low ratings.”

Furthermore, he expressed disappointment in Jessica Soho for her supposed tolerance for injustice.

“I am so disappointed in Jessica's allowing this injustice to happen; it is such a stain on her reputation for fairness,” Bello said.

He even called out the four candidates who attended the interview for failing to raise Ka Leody’s exclusion.

“Did Leni, Ping, Manny, and Isko even raise the issue of Leody's class exclusion at any time in the program, knowing that he would not be allowed to participate?” he said. “The first thing they should have done when they learned he was being excluded was to show solidarity with his right to be there and refuse to participate unless he was also included. What a tragedy for the media and for democracy!”

Mark Ernest Famatigan is a news writer who focuses on Philippine politics. He is an advocate for press freedom and regularly follows developments in the Philippine economy. The views expressed are his own.

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