Veteran journalists urge the public to defend press freedom, democratic rights

Ging Reyes, head of ABS-CBN’s Integrated News and Current Affairs, thanks supporters during the Red Friday for Press Freedom last Feb. 14. (Photo by Carlo Manalansan / Bulatlat)
“Di ko akalain na ang kalayaan na na-achieve natin noong 1986 ay manganganib uli ngayon.” (I did not expect that the freedom we had achieved in 1986 would be threatened once again.)


MANILA – ABS-CBN News Head Ging Reyes likened the shutting down of the giant network to the late dictator’s muzzling of the press.

In her speech during an online rally led by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, Reyes said, “Di ko akalain na ang kalayaan na na-achieve natin noong 1986 ay manganganib uli ngayon.” (I did not expect that the freedom we had achieved in 1986 would be threatened once again.)

Reyes started her career at the ABS-CBN immediately after the toppling of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986. Marcos imposed martial law and ordered the closure of media outfits, including ABS-CBN.

“Ito ay malaking dagok sa demokrasya,” (This is a big blow on democracy) Reyes said, echoing the words she wrote for TV Patrol’s episode on May 5, the day the network signed off.

The veteran journalist branded the National Telecommunications Commission’s cease and desist order as “an act of treachery,” stating that the NTC had promised Congress it would give the network provisional authority.

Reyes said that the order has deprived millions of Filipinos, especially in the provinces access to information and entertainment. “Hindi lahat may access sa digital platforms. Hindi lahat may pambili ng data,” she said. (Not everyone has access to digital platforms. Not everyone can buy internet load.)

Since the signing off of the network’s free TV and radio, ABS-CBN shifted to digital operations.

While Reyes admitted they had prepared for the “worst-case scenario,” the dreaded news on May 5 still came as shocking.

“Napakasakit sa akin bilang head of news, wala akong magawa at di ko man lang sila mayakap para sabihin na, ‘Everything will be alright in the end.’” (As head of news, it was painful for me, I could not do anything and I could not even hug them and say ‘Everything will be alright.)

She thanked the NUJP for persistently pointing out that the shutdown of ABS-CBN is “an issue of press freedom.”

Reyes reiterated that they did not violate any law. She also pointed out that NTC has allowed other media companies in a similar situation to operate.

While the NTC, members of the House of Representative, Office of Solicitor General and the Department of Justice have been denying accountability over the closure, NUJP Chairperson Nonoy Espina blamed President Rodrigo Duterte.

“Ang puno’t dulo nito ay ang galit ni Pangulong Duterte hindi lang sa ABS-CBN kundi sa kritikal na midya,” Espina said. (It all boils down to President Duterte’s intolerance toward ABS-CBN and the critical press)

On Dec. 3, 2019, Duterte said, “Ikaw ABS-CBN, ang iyong franchise mag-end next year.[[Your franchise will end next year] If you’re expecting na ma-renew ‘yan, I’m sorry. you’re out. I will see to it that you’re out.”

The network’s franchise expired on May 4.

Espina added that “Duterte’s minions only took his cue.”

Espina, who has been a journalist since the Marcos dictatorship, said he is confident that the truth will once again triumph.

Veteran journalist Luis Teodoro, chairperson of Altermidya network, called for unity among journalists, activists and other civil libertarians in defending democratic rights. (

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