The Beginnings of the CBCP Media Office
When the Constitution and By-Laws of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) was first approved by the Congregation for Bishops on May 21, 1974, the CBCP Media Office was not yet conceived.
It was only when the same Constitution and By-Laws were revised and subsequently approved by Rome in January 23, 1988 that the CBCP Media Office was formally instituted.
It may be good to note that the Catholic Welfare Organization (CWO) which was established in 1945 to answer the war emergency was the formal organization of the Philippine Catholic hierarchy. On January 31, 1968, CWO became the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).
Although the CBCP Media Office was already an entity in 1988, it had no organization, staff or office to speak about. Its functions outlined in the 1988 CBCP Constitution were placed under the care of the CBCP General Secretariat.
The main work of the Media Office then was the publication of the CBCP Monitor which started as a newsletter in 1985 and evolved into a quarterly magazine until it stopped operation in 1991.
The CBCP Media Office became fully operational in 1996 during the first term of Archbishop Cruz as CBCP President. In February of that year, he tasked Msgr. Pedro Quitorio, then the Assistant Secretary General of CBCP, to set up a physical office and hire fulltime staff. In an “ad interim” capacity, he was assigned as Media Director.
In July 1996, the CBCP Media Office was inaugurated after the July Plenary Assembly of the bishops. The office extended 3 spans or bays. The first 2 spans were allocated for a press conference room while the other 1 span was for the Media Office staff.
The press conference room also served as the press office of Church beat reporters from national dailies, TV and radio networks. The press office was furnished with computers and internet access, fax machines, telephone lines, among others.
Before the year ended a CBCP Press Corps was organized. It maybe well noted that it was only about this time that news organizations (e.g. Philippine Daily Inquirer, Philippine Star, Manila Bulletin, etc.) considered the CBCP/Church a major beat, hence they assigned fulltime beat reporters.
In 1999, Msgr. Hernando Coronel was assigned as Director of the CBCP Media Office. The main preoccupation of the Office was media relations and the publication of the fortnightly CBCP Monitor which was revived in January 1997 as a news magazine.
In 2002 Msgr. Pedro Quitorio was appointed Media Director. In September of 2003, however, he resigned due to an intervening work at CBCP World. At this time, the management of the CBCP Media Office was handled by the CBCP Secretariat.
In 2006, Quitorio was reappointed as Director of the Media office.
Functions of the Media Office
It disseminates, particularly to the secular tri-media, the Official Letters and Declarations, Joint Statements, Decisions and other official pronouncements of the Conference.
It attends to legitimate requests from media practitioners for information on issues and items available for publication.
It represents the General Secretariat upon invitation from media outlets in conjunction with subject matters touching on faith and morals, and/or affecting the apostolic concerns of the Church of the Philippines.
It establishes and maintains communications and linkages with local and foreign media offices.
It edits and publishes the national publication of the Conference called the “CBCP Monitor”.