Luchi Cruz-Valdez, Unmasking that ABS-CBN’s Special Assignment

John Joel Villareal

Manila, Philippines – “Media has been getting a lot of negative publicity lately,” says Luchi Cruz-Valdez, during the press conference for the launching of Bandila sometime last year. On June 23, 2006, as Ayn Veronica de Jesus of The Manila Times reported, Cruz-Valdez added that many viewers had begun to turn away from watching the news because most items focus on political bickering, economic slump and national degradation. “We were feeding on that depression. We felt the time was right to do something,” she said.

Luchi Cruz-Valdez has been around in journalism for a couple of decades. She was known to be a part of GMA’s Probe Team before, but she left in 2001 for ABS-CBN after being offered a higher position in the company’s current affairs.

There’s not much information in cyberspace about this journalist, Luchi Cruz-Valdez. Once you google her name, almost all results that appear are links to her segment in the defunct Special Assignment when she interviewed the Ang Dating Daan (The Old Path) sect leader, Eliseo Soriano. This is the preacher Luchi Cruz-Valdez tried to destroy.

Special Assignment was a news feature show in ABS-CBN, hosted by Luchi Cruz-Valdez. It didn’t stay around long as the show suffered from poor rating. From the very title of the show, there’s an implication that featured news in there were assigned by some veiled taskmaster(s). The title is suggestive of a sinister ploy or order, the reason why it has to be called an assignment.

Cruz-Valdez is skilled in manipulating information to make herself appear favorable to those she is protecting or siding with. She has the skills in distorting data or doing some fractional approach. This means she simply picks up some parts of the whole thing and delivers it to the public viewers in a much skewed package.

The proof of these claims, she delivered personally when she was interviewed by an ABS-CBN correspondent Tessa Mauricio last September 20, 2007 posted in ABS-CBN Interactive. Cruz-Valdez personally claimed that they (ABS-CBN) were terribly affected when the rival station GMA came up with “Walang kinikilingan, walang pinuprotekatahan…” (Siding no one, protecting no one…) in their news flagship.

Obviously, she is aware that the company she’s working with has major business links with the Lopez’s clan like Meralco, Manila North Tollways Corporation, and other major companies. With the rival GMA’s news slogan, she said it is an attack to them as an implication that ABS-CBN news’ delivery is prone to biases for protecting the company’s interest.

Could this mean that ABS-CBN and Cruz-Valdez have stumbled upon a win/win strategy, by working together, as the lady journalist can do hack writing to protect the company’s affiliates?

She was working at the company for four years then before she hinted with admittance that they may be guilty of such, and that is why she had to call for staff and system overhaul. Obviously she was one of the main consenters, if not promoters, of disinformation in the company she is working with, for being the head of its current affairs team.

In the same interview with Mauricio, Luchi stated that “We wanted to be number 1… we want to keep the lead.” She had expressed that “we intend to grow the business outside the Philippines; we want to be a major regional source of news and information.”

Perhaps this could be one of the reasons that plummeted ABS-CBN’s true news credibility down to questionable proportions, when they compete at all costs for the sake of rank. There is suggestion that regardless of the nature of information they have gathered, when they do deliver, they make it intriguing enough for the viewers, resorting even to lies. The more they do this, the more viewers they attract, and the more they secure profits for the company.

In considering fair journalism, truth shall always be the commodity, not sensationalizing a certain issue. However, there’s a risk in the rating for being too honest to the public viewer – that there is nothing sensational in the news they are about to watch. Intrigue is juicier than the honest taste of truth. That appears so in the philosophy of Cruz-Valdez.

Intrigue is an all time enticer of interest to the public viewer, especially in this depressing period of the country’s economy. If intrigue will arouse the interest of the viewers; ratings will surely soar, regardless of whether the material to view in public is factual or simply fabricated lies to mar a certain personality.

Now, declaring that media has been getting a lot of negative publicity lately, could the answer be in some media personality like Luchi Cruz-Valdez herself who is working not because of truth but because of the interest of the company’s ranking status?

Luchi Cruz-Valdez is a 20-year journalist who happens to believe in pornographic comics about the Ang Dating Daan sect leader, Eliseo Soriano. This comics was being discreetly scattered in public by Soriano’s spineless enemies especially the Iglesia ni Cristo, the church group that this preacher had exposed for many false beliefs including their belief of discrediting Jesus Christ as God but only a human. The obscene reading materials were obviously a ploy to destroy Soriano, popularly known as Bro. Eli.

These pornographic comics that contained lies of the supposed private life of Soriano, has no reported publishing house responsible for the printing or even just an author’s name in it. Using her defunct news program Special Assignment, Luchi Cruz-Valdez promoted the pornographic materials in the public viewer, rather than Soriano as he is.

“We intend to grow the business…” Luchi stated. Obviously, it’s all about business. Put a known public figure before the viewer, spice it up with the sensationalized issue that’s not even factual, make him felonious or controversial, and you will surely get a high-soaring rating. “The ratings are major, major factor,” Luchi added. Of course, the rating is a major factor for the show to run successfully. This is how this industry works.

Soriano is one of the known public figures who are very interesting to discuss as this can generate income for media industry. His popularity had reached international proportions. Naturally, fame-hungry mediocre personalities may ride along such popularity.

When you google this journalist’s name, the results that arise are not to her honest efforts in media work. They are the ones she did with her diabolical segment for the Ang Dating Daan leader. This is where her manipulative journalism became so evident to the public viewers. Luchi Cruz-Valdez didn’t know she was dealing with a very large group of consumers capable of bringing her company down. Just with one announcement, ABS-CBN could go down the drain if the Ang Dating Daan leader says “cut.” However, righteous that the man is, Bro. Eli plays it fair and square. He didn’t influence the consumer decisions of his members.

This might also be the segment where Luchi gathered public knowledge about her threatening presence in journalism. Scathing Soriano in national TV might be her biggest break for a wider audience from the long period of hibernating in the industry without making it big.

ABS-CBN might look at her as a respected public figure for the few awards she had gathered. This may also be a reason why the company trusted her that much. If that is the case, the thing is that this TV journalist mistakenly pounded on a public figure whose awards of merit in public service and ennoblement certainly towers over many times her diminutive awards. And yet, all she did was work on fabricated comics’ lies.

If awards and recognition are to indicate credibility, Soriano is obviously much credible than she is. Soriano’s commodity is truth and his interest is salvation. The most recent award he just received was credited to his international religious program, Ang Dating Daan, from Gawad Amerika Awards. He has a long list of awards as listed in the encyclopedia since he started broadcasting more than two decades ago.

Next time Luchi Cruz-Valdez will approach anyone of you, will you let her do her “Special Assignment” about you?

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Bulong mula sa Hukay

Rey Tamayo, Jr.

Nakatanghod sa kawalan ang matang bitbit ang bagbag,

Waring pigil sa pagtangis ang luhang may dugo’t sugat.

Ang kalayaang nakamit sinisikil at nilansag!

Ng mga berdugong hayok sa salapi’t mapagpanggap.

Hanggang kailan tataghoy ang bulong mula sa hukay?

Api’t lupig sa lipunan animo’y kawawang bangkay,

Ang nagpupuyos na tinig may dalang pighati’t sigaw;

Diwa’y ibig maghimagsik sa elitistang halimaw.

Kung laging pangamba’t hibik; hatid ng sigwang pandinig—

Na sumusugat sa dibdib ng dukha at malilit.

O’ hindi kaya umapaw itong panibugho’t galit?

Kung labis na ang pahirap sa malupit na daigdig.

Dinggin mo ang iyong bayan may daing ang bawat bulong!

Unti unting nilulugmok ; ang pag-asa’y nilalamon.

Kaluluwa’y nakasalang sa mabagsik na kumunoy,

Ang matatag na bandila’y nilalamay sa ataol.

At Kung Sakaling Bangkay Akong Haharap Sa’yo! (Sestina)

Rey Tamayo, Jr.

Bawat letra at titik inihahandog sa’yo,

Upang iyong mabatid ang mga punglo’t bangkay;

Na nagdusa ng pait kapalit ang prinsipyo.

Kalauna’y pinatid; peryodista’y hinimlay—

Sa puntod ng tigatig bayani silang tunay,

Sa lapida’y may ukit alaalang totoo.

Inidolo ang akdang mabangis na totoo,

Tarikan na salita ay laan para sa’yo.

Mailigtas ang madla at maralitang tunay;

Laban sa lason, sumpa at kamandag ng bangkay.

Nitong mga banyagang hangad silang ihimlay,

Dahil kan’lang giniba ang bulaang prinsipyo.

Dugo ba ang katumbas nitong aming prinsipyo?

Hangad lamang ilabas ang balitang totoo,

Bulag na ba ang batas at waring nakahimlay?

Ang pluma’y inuutas na dahil lamang sa’yo–

At kami’y dinadahas. binibilang ang bangkay,

Mula sa mga ahas maninikil na tunay.

Bakas nila’y sinundan waring aninong tunay,

Kahapon lamang tambal matatag na prinsipyo;

Ngayo’y may alingawngaw mga banta ng bangkay.

At nang ako’y sumigaw sumulat ng totoo,

Karaka’y binusalan ang panulat ko sa’yo;

Tinta’t pluma’y binuwal ang diwa’y nakahimlay.

At ngayo’y binilanggo sa karsel inihimlay,

Sinugatan ang pusong may tanikalang tunay.

O yaring pagkahapo’y dili ba’t galing sa’yo?

Ibig ipagkanolo ang doktrina’t prinsipyo,

Pero nasa kamao ang dangal ng tooo;

Upang ang pagkatao’y di maging isang bangkay.

Sa kabilang piitan minasdan itong bangkay,

Sa dakong may guwang muling may ihihimlay;

Hindi lang walo, siyam ang nasawing tooo.

Di ko na rin mabilang ang trinaydor na tunay,

Unti-unting tinanggal pagkatao’t prinsipyo;

Ngunit di mapapaslang pagtitiwala Sa’yo.

At kung sakaling bangkay akong haharap sa’yo—

H’wag mo sanang ihimlay adhikaing totoo,

Ang peryodistang tunay may akdang maprinsipyo.

*Ang artikulong ito ay nailathala sa ( Sep. 2007 )