The Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines called yesterday a black day for independent media across the country as ABS-CBN News aired its final TV Patrol newscasts in provincial stations and pulled the plug for good after more than three decades of service.
In a statement, FOCAP said it dreaded the repercussions of this latest offshoot of the network’s shutdown amid an unprecedented pandemic. As other ABS-CBN news programs have already gone off air, millions of Filipinos outside Metro Manila will lose a fast and credible source of news as they struggle through a life threatening crisis. Many isolated and disaster-prone villages unreached by other networks can dangerously lose their access to national news, including government pronouncements.
Additionally, thousands of community journalists, news production staff and downstream workers will join the swelling ranks of the unemployed and desperate Filipinos.
FOCAP considers all these as avoidable national tragedies, inflicted by the very people who should protect Filipinos from all adversity.
As FOCAP stands solidly with their ABS-CBN news colleagues in this moment of adversity, it takes pride in the legacy of independent and courageous journalism they have forged against many odds since rising from the quagmire of Ferdinand Marcos’ martial law.
The pandemic, coupled with a government that has not been afraid to wield its awesome power in vindictiveness towards certain members of the independent media has not been kind to journalism in the Philippines. At this point, as we commiserate with our colleagues from ABS-CBN’s provincial stations, we are one with them in hoping that independent media can find the ways and patrons to weather the storms and somehow rise again to serve the interests of the Filipino people when the winds change and the situation finally improves.
They say it is always darkest before the dawn. Hopefully yesterday’s black day for independent media won’t be followed by even darker days ahead, that the turning point is nigh and the bright light of a truly free press will shine upon our land once more in due time.*