BY MARCHEL P. ESPINA
“We have to be strong until we meet again. Thank you very much Kapamilya”.
That was the last message of ABS-CBN Bacolod news anchor Barbara Mijares during the network’s final broadcast of its flagship program, “TV Patrol Negros”, yesterday afternoon, which was streamed live over Facebook.
ABS-CBN Bacolod, along with the other local stations around the country, aired their last broadcast over the social media platform yesterday as the network ceases its operations in the provinces, and lays off workers following the non-renewal of its franchise.
The 81 ABS-CBN Bacolod employees, including the reporters, will lose their jobs by the end of this month.
In the final minute of broadcast, Mijares told netizens it would be the last episode of “TV Patrol Negros” after being on air for 32 years.
She thanked the people for welcoming them, for trusting them, and for making the network a part of their daily lives.
She said it is an honor for them to serve the people of Negros, and in every storm, earthquake, flood, and fire, they were all together.
“In this storm we are facing, you are still here,” she added.
She said that even if ABS-CBN will be off the air, they will still help each other fight this pandemic.
The news episode ended with clips and photos of ABS-CBN reporters, talents, and workers on the field during coverage, events, and outreach programs.
Off camera, the workers gathered for one last time. Some were in tears.
Senior reporter Yasmin Pascual-Dormido said that after the broadcast ended, there was silence, and then they clapped their hands. She also led a prayer.
She said “I thanked God for sustaining us from the very day the threat of the franchise not being renewed became imminent. For allowing us to survive on a daily basis so that we could continue doing our jobs amid the pandemic, I asked God to bless our plans because we trust that He has a better plan for us. And we look forward to that day when He finally reveals the reason why He allowed this to happen.”
Meanwhile, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, in a statement yesterday, said the closure of ABS-CBN’s regional stations also deprives Filipinos of a major source of credible news and information even as the nation struggles against the pandemic.
“To our colleagues in ABS-CBN, our total respect and support. Thank you for your dedication and your service. But let this not be the end. Let us turn our grief into anger and resolve,” the group said.
The Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines, in a statement, said it’s a black day for independent media across the Philippines as ABS-CBN News airs its final TV Patrol newscasts in provincial stations then pulls the plug for good after more than three decades.
FOCAP dreads the repercussions of this latest offshoot of the network’s shutdown amid an unprecedented pandemic, the group said.
It added that thousands of community journalists, news production staff, and downstream workers will tearfully bid goodbye to ABS-CBN and join the swelling ranks of the unemployed and desperate.*