Isabela governor bemoans ABS-CBN News absence amid massive flooding

Isabela Governor Rodito Albano III bemoaned the absence of ABS-CBN News during the massive flooding that devastated his province and nearby Cagayan, even as his lawmaker-brother voted to kill the network’s franchise application.

In an interview with ANC on Monday, November 16, Albano said they were not able to quickly release information to the public due to the magnitude of the disaster.

“We had to give images to the media only on Saturday. We didn’t do it because it happened nighttime and in the morning, everything was flooded. The highways were cutoff. Everybody was cut off here," Albano said in a mix of English and Filipino.

“How can we give you such information? Sana kung mayroon kayong mga crews dito. Yung mga crews nga ng ibang station pinalipad ko pa para tignan ang damage dito sa Isabela and Cagayan,” he added.

(It would have been better if you had crews here. I made the crews of other stations fly so they could see the extent of damage here in Isabela and Cagayan)

Both provinces were placed under state of calamity. Thousands of people have been displaced as floodwaters reached roof level in parts of the province.

Governor's brother helped kill ABS-CBN

ABS-CBN’s regional stations in the two provinces were among the 18 stations closed after the House committee on legislative franchises rejected the network’s application.

When this was pointed out to him, Albano laughed for a good 10 seconds before saying he is sure the ABS-CBN News crews would also be beset by challenges.

“Oo pero still, even yung crews na-overwhelm din yun I’m sure. Lahat naman ng stations dito na-overwhelm crews nila,” he said. (Yes, but still even the crews would be overwhelmed, I'm sure. The crews of all stations were overwhelmed here.)

The governor’s brother, Isabela 1st district Representative Antonio “Tonypet” Albano, served as the committee vice chairperson and voted to kill ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal in July.

Representative Albano’s vote was an about-face to his earlier public pronouncements defending the network.

“ABS-CBN provides much needed information that government has been giving to reach everyone and keep us abreast on vital information that can spell the difference in saving lives and helping our country as we speak!” Representative Albano said on May 4.

Isabela, Cagayan lawmakers vs ABS-CBN

In total, 5 of the 6 representatives of Isabela voted to reject ABS-CBN's franchise renewal. The second district representative was not a member of the committee:

  • Antonio "Tonypet" Albano, 1st district
  • Ian Paul Dy, 3rd district
  • Alyssa Sheena Tan, 4th district
  • Faustino Michael Carlos Dy III, 5th district
  • Faustino "Inno" Dy, 6th district

Cagayan 2nd district Representative Samantha Louise Alfonso voted to reject ABS-CBN's franchise. The two other lawmakers from the province were not members of the panel.

Millions of Filipinos rely on ABS-CBN’s coverage as the network has the widest reach nationwide. 

Some typhoon survivors have earlier voiced concerns over the regional stations’ closures, fearing it would affect disaster response efforts in far-flung areas. – Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com

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