MANILA, Philippines – Veteran broadcast journalist Ces Drilon on Monday, called out the “oppressive government” responsible for ABS-CBN’s shutdown where she worked for almost a couple of decades, during the protest rally at the University of the Philippines Diliman, hours ahead of President Rodrigo Duterte’s penultimate State of the Nation Address (SONA) at the Batasang Pambansa.
During her privilege speech, she said in front of the crowd that the freedom of the press is the foundation of the democracy, and the right of every Filipino.
“Ang media po ay takbuhan… Kami ang nagbibigay boses sa mga walang boses, sa mga miyembro ng lipunan na walang poder. Mahalaga ito upang may magbulatlat sa mga pagmamalabis ng mga nasa puwesto, upang may tagabantay, tagaulat,” Drilon said.
Hindi (press freedom) isang pribilehiyo na tatanggal-tanggalin lamang ng Presidente,” she highlighted said.
“Ayaw lang po ng isang tao ang pagbabalita namin at dahil dito hindi kami nabigyan ng prangkisa,” Drilon explained.
The veteran journalist also emphasized that she is not the official spokesperson of ABS-CBN, nor the spokesperson of ABS-CBN workers who were affected by the closure of the network.
“Pero kaisa ko po sila na nagsasabi na kami po ay biktima ng isang mapaniil na administrasyon,” Drilon explained.
She also added that ABS-CBN’S closure creates a chilling effect on the Philippine media industry.
“Babala po ang nangyari sa amin…. Mayroon pa bang mag-uulat kaya ng totoong nangyayari? Malamang ay matatakot na rin sila. Mensahe po ang nangyari sa amin na ‘mag-ulat kayo, baka kayo na ang sunod,’” Drilon told the protesters.
Nang idiin ang Rappler, ‘di tayo umimik. Katwiran natin ‘di tayo mamamahayag. Nang idiin si Reynaldo Orcullo at inaresto, katwiran natin ‘di naman ako nagpopost sa social media,” she said.
“Nang isara ang ABS-CBN at DZMM, hindi tayo umimik, katwiran mo ‘di naman ako empleyado ng ABS-CBN. ‘Pag hinabol nila Inquirer, ‘di pa ba tayo iimik,” Drilon added.
“Huwag po tayong maniwala sa sinasabi sa social media na ang pagsara ng ABS-CBN ay hindi katumbas ng pagkitil sa karapatan nating lahat sa malayang pamamahayag. Defend press freedom,” Drilon said.
Drilon was one of the thousands of workers who were affected by ABS-CBN retrenchment after the Congress did not grant its new 25-year franchise.
Amid strict prohibitions of the government, several leaders, and journalists attended the “SONAgkaisa” rally. The event started from ABS-CBN Building thru motorcade to the country’s premier state university where protesters followed strict social distancing.
The rally emphasized the incompetence of the government to address the coronavirus pandemic by prioritizing the shut down of ABS-CBN, and the implementation of the controversial Anti-Terrorism Bill.
Ces Drilon also said that it was her first time to join a protest rally. (Stanley Buenafe Gajete | Photo & Video courtesy to the official Facebook post of Mr. Stanley Buenafe Gajete)