ABS-CBN Shutdown: When Our Freedoms Are Threatened

ABS-CBN went off-air on May 5, 2020 after the NTC ordered it to cease broadcast operations over the lack of a legislative franchise.

We stand on the shoulders of our heroes – the mighty men and women who fought with guns, machetes, sharp strategy, and sheer courage to hand us on a silver platter the freedoms we now enjoy.

Our liberties are born from the blood of brave hearts who took up arms or took to the streets – from the Spanish colonization, to the Americans, Japanese, and the late dictator of the 1970s to 1980s. Their heroism celebrated every August and February.

Yet here we are now. Our basic freedoms threatened.

Civilians arbitrarily arrested or detained. Mere suspects killed because “nanlaban”. Philippine sovereignty challenged as we are forcibly driven away in our own territories. Our national integrity and pride being sold. And now, the press is under siege.

It started with an online news portal. Then today, one of the biggest broadcast networks in the country played the national anthem at a primetime, signing off under the orders of an agency under the Executive Branch.

And it happened at this crucial time. A time when we are all in dire need of accurate and credible information to help us fight a global pandemic. A time when we are away from our loved ones and we urgently need to know the situation in their location. A time when misinformation and fake propaganda abound and we need to get to the truth to act accordingly.

This network giant’s closure goes beyond targeting a single company.

It is a systematic attack on the freedom of the press. A basic freedom that is enshrined in the Philippine Constitution. A basic freedom that allows people to enjoy multiple sources of information so that we can make informed decisions critical to our survival as individuals and as a nation.

It is a systematic attack on the people’s right and need to know. With ABS-CBN being the broadcast network with the widest reach nationwide, it becomes the primary source of information for our countrymen in all corners of the land.

It is a systematic attack on our democracy. A democracy is a government of, for, and by the people. But with limited access to independent information, how do we make sound decisions?

The media has a critical role to play in a democracy. It is the link between the public and the private sphere – a means to bridge the information from the government and official sources to the people. It is a gatekeeper of information – filtering false claims and threshing out the facts. It is the Fourth Estate that serves as a check and balance to hold the other three branches of the government accountable for their actions.

This move to shut down a major broadcast network HOPES to create a chilling effect to the media. It happened to one, two of us. It can certainly happen to all of us. But as exemplified by Rappler and ABS-CBN, this just drives the Fourth Estate to push back and courage on. We will not be silenced.

This is a time for the media to stand as one to protect our role as the Fourth Estate and a pillar of democracy.

This is a time for the media to be more discerning and committed to its gatekeeping role – to let go of the “he said, she said” narrative – and focus on critical analysis to keep the public better informed and finally put down peddlers of misinformation and fake propaganda.

Our freedoms stand on it. The very fiber of our nation’s democracy largely depends on it.

The powers that be may have “succeeded” in getting a major network off the air tonight. But the repercussions of this move in the “woke” minds of this generation are yet to be seen and heard.

This is a time for solidarity. This is a time to fight for our democracy.

#DefendPressFreedom #NoToABSCBNShutdown

[Entry 300, The SubSelfie Blog]

About the Author:

Subselfie - Edma


Edma Remillano is the Manager for Advocacies for SubSelfie.com. She was a News Writer for GMA News and Public Affairs but now works as a freelance writer-producer. More importantly, she is the owner of the dessert shop Edma Bakes. Journalism 2010, UP Diliman. Read more of her articles here.

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