Persecution

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Pictures of the nationwide noise barrage in support of ABS CBN abound in social media and I am proud to have joined the one here in Bacolod last Saturday.

It was very emotional, not only for the 81 employees of the local network, but for us in the media, as these are our friends for decades who have been notified that their employment will end by next month because 70 legistraitors opted to lick the caprices of one man.

Romeo Subaldo, news director of ABS CBN Bacolod shed tears as he thanked the countless and nameless people who joined the motorcade, staged the noise barrage, lit candles in front of the station and stood by them during this time of injustice for the 11,000 workers of the network that was shut down by shameless legistraitors.

Some 100 vehicles joined the motorcade, honking our horns as we passed through major thoroughfares and it was heartening to hear shouts of support from people on the streets and other vehicles honking back to show they are one with us in this protest.

I was surprised to see some friends whom I never imagined to join protests. But I guess we all felt the same that this idiocy has gone on far too long and if we do not stand up to show our indignation, these nincompoops will continue to trample on us.

Priests and nuns also lit candles outside the Bishop’s House where they had their prayer rally and it was a sight to see them urging us on as we passed through.

Pictures of lit candles in their homes also flooded social media as well as memes against police forces who closed down streets to make the routes difficult for those who joined the protest.

Fortunately, our traffic enforcers at the Bacolod Public Plaza were helpful to guide us and keep the traffic flowing while others opted to respect the protest process as they allowed the motorcade to glide freely through the intersections even while on a red light.
Of course the local police made their presence felt by sending a couple of vehicles right in front of the ABS CBN station, dressed in military fatigues. Initially, it felt okay as some of them even helped protestors crossed the busy street.

However, I was not amused at all when they started taking pictures of the protest, and it dawned on me that they must be following orders from the top, especially now that the anti-terror law is in effect.

But if they think we will be cowered with fear, as we ensured that social distancing and wearing of masks were followed, then they are sorely mistaken. From social group chats, this is just the beginning of more protests, especially against those puppets of this government.

The Visayan Daily Star family led by Carla Gomez came en masse along with our dog mascot, Margot, who was dressed to the nines in black froo-froo and sparkling dog collar.

I am glad that many of our colleagues stood by ABS CBN and special shout out to veteran journalists Edgar Cadagat, Nonoy Espina, Edmund Aspero and Bambi Yngson who were there very early to lend their support and Marchel Espina of the local NUJP that helped organize it.

The Negros Press Club family led by President Glazyl Masculino, Dolores Miranda, Shiela Gelera, Erwin Nicavera, Jemlo Victoso, Rey Siason also came to join the protest or do a coverage of it. While there will always be competition among media outlets, we come in unity because this issue is not only about the shutdown of a giant network but a threat to press freedom.

There are of course those who thumbed-down our efforts as we passed through, but majority were cheering, even if some of them just did it for the return of “Cardo,” that popular hero in the long-playing telenovela “Ang Probinsiyano.”

Their cries may not be for the persecution of the network, but it showed that many of them were affected by the closure of ABS CBN, be it for news or entertainment.

Speaking of persecution, there is altogether a similar action at the provincial government as key personnel are being suspended and investigated. The latest are NOCHP head, Mina Pellejo, lawyers Ariel Cuaycong and Ernie Magaspac and Warlito, who works at the Provincial Legal Office.

Ernie has yet to receive his suspension order as he is on medical leave but he has a mouthful to say against Provincial Administrator, Atty. Ray Diaz and the process by which Gov. Bong Lacson has allegedly allowed this persecution to happen.

But that will entail a whole new column, along with the explanation submitted by Mina which is less emotional than that of Ernie, but which drives certain points that will put this provincial government to shame in this apparent witch hunt.

As one ABS CBN employee pointed out, killing their employment in this time of pandemic is the pits especially when unemployment is at an all-time high in the country. It’s the same situation in the province as more and more people are getting kicked out because of the whims and arrogance of one, according to an aggrieved employee. More on that soon.*

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