In Bacolod, drivers urged to ‘honk for press freedom’
BACOLOD CITY, Philippines – Local media groups, students, various sectors, and workers of ABS-CBN Bacolod held a #DefendPressFreedom rally outside the TV station at 26th Lacson Street in Bacolod City on Friday night, February 28.
Clad in black shirts, the group held up signs reading “Honk for Press Freedom” and “Busina para sa Media” at drivers who passed by Lacson Street.
Drivers who honked in support were greeted with cheers by the group.
They also chanted “Defend, defend press freedom!” and “Ang media, ang bayan, ngayon ay lumalaban!” at the protest, now on its third week. It was organized by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines – Bacolod chapter.
Neri Colmenares, Makabayan chairman and former Bayan Muna party-list representative, joined the rally to show support to the embattled workers of ABS-CBN. Colmenares, a Negrense himself, said closing down the broadcast giant will create a chilling effect on the media.
He urged citizens to join the call to renew the franchise of ABS-CBN as this is not only about press freedom but for the future and the next generation.
Wennie Sancho, secretary-general of General Alliance of Workers Associations, said the issue of the renewal of the ABS-CBN franchise – which involves over 11,000 workers' jobs – is not just a simple labor issue, but an issue of labor oppression.
"To shut down ABS-CBN and deprive the workers of their only means of livelihood violates human dignity. It is a grave injustice and a form of oppression,” he said.
He said one cannot be neutral on this crucial issue. “To shy away would be a surrender of our principle to resist labor oppression in our labor advocacy. This issue had galvanized the workers to collective action in support of ABS-CBN,” he added.
Marchel Espina, NUJP-Bacolod chapter president, said the Senate hearing early this week only proved that the broadcast network did not commit any violations as alleged by the government.
Different regulatory agencies cleared ABS-CBN over the alleged violations on taxes, labor conditions, pay-per-view service, and the foreign ownership, she said.
“It is an abuse of power and a threat to freedom of the press to still move for the shut down of the broadcast giant,” she said.
Glazyl Masculino, incoming president of the Negros Press Club, thanked the people who came to support the call for freedom of the press.
Also joining the rally were progressive groups led by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Negros.
The rally was capped by a candle-lighting and prayer led by ABS-CBN Bacolod senior reporter Yasmin Pascual-Dormido.
She prayed for the franchise renewal and for freedom of the press, and thanked the people who showed their support. – Rappler.com