MANILA, Philippines– In the face of the shutdown of the Philippines’ biggest network, campus publications made a clear stand: They refuse to be silent.
A deluge of statements from campus publications all over the country swarmed social media after ABS-CBN went off-air for the first time since Martial Law. (READ: ‘We need a free press’: Youth groups stand with ABS-CBN after shutdown order)
On Tuesday, May 5, the National Telecommunications Commission had issued a cease and desist order against ABS-CBN after its congressional franchise expired on Monday.
The order halts ABS-CBN’s television and radio broadcasting operations, endangering more than 11,000 jobs.
Campus publications stood by the embattled network and banded together with other organizations and fellow journalists to make their voices heard. (READ: A message to campus journalists: Your voice matters more than ever)
At Ateneo de Manila University, the Confederation of Publications emphasized how the shutdown order shows how a dictatorship is in the works under the Duterte administration.
“It is time to recognize that a dictatorship does not occur in one grand sweep across the nation; at times, especially in the case of Duterte’s administration, it manifests through a slow, seemingly legal battle against our democratic institutions,” they said.
Student publications from Ateneo schools, along with One Big Fight For Human Rights and Democracy, echoed the sentiment, noting how the shutdown “reflects the dark time of Martial Law.”
“These deluding measures of the government only reflect its insensitivity towards its people, bearing poor prioritization of the pressing matters at hand during this health crisis and economic recession,” added Ateneo de Zamboanga’s The BEACON.
The De La Salle University Student Media Council – consisting of Ang Pahayagang Plaridel, Archers Network, Green & White, Green Giant FM, Malate Literary Folio, and The LaSallian – condemned any and all attempts to silence the media and cause the loss of thousands of jobs “amid what could be the darkest times in Philippine history.”
Continuing the fight for truth
Himati, the official student publication of the University of the Philippines Mindanao, raised concerns about losing a reliable news source as the Philippines grapples with not just the coronavirus pandemic but also an insurgence of false information on social media.
“Sa panahon na mas kinakailangan ng taumbayan ang mga midyang maghahatid ng balita at iba’t ibang uri ng impormasyon sa kanila, inuuna ni Duterte at ng kaniyang mga taga-sunod ang panggigipit sa midya at sa kanilang karapatan sa malayang pamamahayag,” said Manila Collegian of University of the Philippines Manila.
(At a time when the people need the media to deliver news and different kinds of information, Duterte and his allies prioritized clamping down on media and their right to press freedom.)
Manila Collegian added how the government opted to silence media instead of focusing on more pressing matters such as addressing the country’s economic and health crisis.
“Imbes na mabilisang tulong at ayuda ang ihatid, pagdadakip at pagmumulta’t ating namamasid. Imbes na mass testing ang ipagkaloob, tayo’y unti-unting kinukubkob. Imbes na masustento’t mamulat sa panahon ng pandemya, tinatanggal ang ating karapatan at kalayaang mamahayag,” they said.
(Instead of providing aid and relief, they arrested and fined us. Instead of mass testing, we are slowly being picked off. Instead of making us informed during a pandemic, they stripped us of our rights and press freedom.)
Palawan State University-Main Campus’ Pioneer Publication strongly called on Congress to hear the cry of its constituents, and expedite proceedings involving the media giant’s franchise renewal.
There are at least 9 bills filed with Congress seeking the network’s franchise renewal. However, Congress had repeatedly pushed back hearings on the said bills. (READ: #CourageON: Tag your representatives to act on ABS-CBN franchise renewal)
The Louisian Courier, the official collegiate publication of University of Saint Louis Tuguegarao, urged student publications to condemn the forced shutdown of ABS-CBN and continue to defend press freedom.
“Habang patuloy tayong sinusubukang patahimikin sa pagpapalaganap ng katotohanan, patuloy rin tayong maninindigan upang protektahan ang ating karapatan sa malayang pagpapahayag,” added The MARIAN of St. Mary’s University in Nueva Vizcaya.
(While efforts are done to try to silence our quest for truth, we continue to stand up for our rights and press freedom.)
Capturing the moment
While other publications changed their profile pictures to black and made their stand clear in statements, many also chose to capture the sentiment of the community through their stories.
In light of the outpouring of support for the embattled media network, UP Los Baños’ Perspective documented the different calls for press freedom by student formations and publications in the campus and beyond.
In De La Salle University, Ang Pahayagang Plaridel wrote about sentiments of Lasallians on the matter, spanning from the Departmento ng Pilipino’s stance to the university’s tribute at St La Salle Hall for ABS-CBN.
LOOK: De La Salle University lights up St. La Salle Hall in the company colors of ABS-CBN to express solidarity with the media giant, its employees, and its Filipino supporters after NTC released an order to shut down its radio and television operations. | via @DLSUManila pic.twitter.com/XGlpHQWkZJ— MovePH (@MovePH) May 5, 2020
Meanwhile, The Communicator reported about the sentiments of Polytechnic University of the Philippines faculty and community, as well as alumni affiliated with ABS-CBN, to share more perspectives.
The members also condemned the forced shutdown of ABS-CBN in a video.
Philippine Collegian of UP Diliman, on the other hand, wrote a biting editorial on the impact of the ABS-CBN shutdown.
Here’s what other campus publications have to say about the ABS-CBN shutdown: