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AMONG working journalists, we have a term “didal.” That is used when a PR (press relations officer) pockets the money intended for a reporter.

Korina SanchezSo the PR’s principal- a government official, a businessman or anybody who is the subject of a news report – thinks that he has paid off the reporter, who doesn’t know that his name was used for a media payoff budget.

If a reporter finds out that his name was in the list and he didn’t get anything, we tease him, “Na didal ka.”

(Accepting money from a source for a story is unethical and is denounced in the practice of journalism. A reporter writes a story because he has discovered something that would be of interest and beneficial to the people and not because someone paid him to do it.

(The reality, however, is that there are PRs, whose job should only be to facilitate access to his principal, who payoff media to promote his principal. This is a bad practice.)

We are told that these days the new term for “didal” is “bukol.”

We suspect that’s what happened to ABS-CBN’s Korina Sanchez and GMA 7’s Mike Enriquez.

An Inquirer report said according to the documents submitted by PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund) scam whistleblower Benhur Luy, pork barrel queen Janet Napoles paid off a number of media personalities.

Mentioned in the Inquirer report were Sanchez and Enriquez who were supposed to have each been given a birthday gift of P50, 000 in cash through a certain Mon Arroyo, a former television director. This happened in 2004.

Radio announcers Deo Macalma and Rey Pacheco were also in the Napolis media list by Luy. They were alleged to have received a total of P715, 000.

Mike EnriquezEarlier, Inquirer reported a different group of broadcasters who were recipients of money from Napoles illegal with the National Agribusiness Corp.

Both Sanchez and Enriquez denied having received money from Napoles. In a statement, Sanchez said she only met Napoles and her family in late 2013 when she was assigned to interview the family in connection with the alleged PDAF scam.

“I had never met Ms Napoles nor had any associations with her, her family, her employees or associates before then, nor after my interview with her and her family,” she said.

“I am astounded to learn that I was supposed to have received a birthday gift from her one time 10 years ago in 2004. This never happened. I did not receive any such gift, in cash or kind, from Ms Napoles or her company nor through emissaries then and up to now, “ she added.

She said she knows a Mon Arroyo, the former husband of her highschool classmate but she had not seen or heard from him he and her friend separated more than 10 years ago.

Enriquez also issued a statement “ vehemently and in the strongest of terms” denying that he knew t Napoles.

He also said “(I) .. just as strongly deny receiving any gift in whatever form from her. People who know me personally and those whom I associate with professionally know very well that both my personal and professional conduct is in strict adherence to the GMA code of ethics and to the values of hard and honest work, decent living and service to God and country.”

Arroyo issued his own statement: “I vehemently deny the allegations and I am willing to testify and face Mr. Benhur Luy about the reported ledger entry that I allegedly received money from anyone in the Napoles group.”

Inquirer didn’t carry statements from Macalma and Pacheco.

Janet Napoles anc yahooEthical journalists are confronted with the problem if their names are included by an unscrupulous PR in the media payoff list because they don’t even know about that list.

There’s also the problem of returning the money if you are handed an envelope containing cash after an event or money is delivered to you. If you return the money to the PR, how sure are you that he would return that to the principal?

Way back in 1987, during an election campaign, a PR of congressman sent me a press release and attached to it was P300. I had to take a taxi to go to the candidate’s headquarters to return the money. Of course, I could not deduct my taxi fare from the P300.

The candidate was not in the headquarters so I just left the money with a note. I don’t know if the candidate ever knew that I returned his P300.

Some media outfits have adopted a policy for the reporters to get the money ( so that the PRs won’t be able to pocket them) and donate it to charitable institutions, then send the receipt to the official or whoever gave the money.

Against unscrupulous PRs, who use responsible journalists to steal money from their principals, the best weapon of journalists are the truth and their conscience.