BY MARCHEL P. ESPINA
The youth, campus journalists, and concerned individuals in Bacolod City trooped to the local station of ABS-CBN at Lacson Street Saturday to show solidarity with the embattled network.
The group, led by the Bacolod Youth Alliance, tied ribbons, posted solidarity messages, and lighted candles outside the broadcast complex the day after the House of Representatives denied the franchise renewal application of ABS-CBN.
Krishna Ariola, convenor of the Bacolod Youth Alliance, said “As youth advocates, we stand with our student journalists and bearers of truth in upholding our constitutional rights to freedom of information, speech, and press.”
She added, “We lift their voices today as they have always lifted ours. This is not just about ABS-CBN. This is about all of us.”
In a statement, the youth group said they mourned the attacks on press freedom. “If they can silence a media giant, they can silence all of us,” they added.
“We stand in solidarity with the thousands of workers and journalists who have lost their jobs due to the ABS-CBN shutdown,” they said.
“Today, we grieve. But tomorrow, we make sure that truth and democracy shall continue to live,” they added.
They urged everyone to visit the “Defend Press Freedom” spot at the ABS-CBN Bacolod gate to leave messages, flowers, artwork, and candles.
Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson said the “freedom of the press is among the protected freedoms of our Constitution and one of the pillars of a democratic society.”
He said the franchise to operate a broadcasting company is a privilege granted by the government, the power to grant and the power to renew are lodged with the legislative department.
“As a local chief executive belonging to a co-equal branch, and while I would have preferred a different outcome, I will respect the decision of the Legislature,” he said.
However, he said he felt for those who will lose their jobs at this time of the pandemic.
The Negros Press Club, in a statement, said around 80 employees of ABS-CBN Bacolod are among the affected workers.
It added that NPC is one with them in this difficult and trying moment, adding that this development will not hinder media practitioners from doing their job, and instead will encourage them to continue serving the public with fairness and truth.*