Netizens aired their frustrations online regarding the absence of ABS-CBN Regional as Rolly stormed its way through the Philippines last November 1.
Last July, the House of Representatives Committee declined to renew ABS-CBN’s franchise bid for allegedly committing “numerous violations”, which resulted in the shut down of 12 of 21 local TV Patrol programs; including TV Patrol Bicol, under the network’s Regional Network Group (RNG).
These programs were able to provide regular news updates to faraway communities for almost three decades, including developments on typhoons. An early cause for worry among many viewers since the announcement of the franchise’s shutdown.
“A flash of reality, there are no ABS-CBN regional stations anymore because a group of greedy crocodiles forced their closure months ago,” netizen Nur Lemuel Castillo shared in a Facebook post when talking about how the strongest storm of 2020 braved through the nation.
He addressed that while rival networks such as GMA also have regional programs, Castillo emphasized that ABS-CBN had a massive reach in viewers in contrast to other networks.
“I do recognize the existence of other regional networks (e.g., GMA Regional) but we cannot deny the fact that ABS-CBN by far has the widest coverage and today, people are denied of their right to information crucial to their survival,” Castillo continued, later concluding that information is needed in surviving calamities such as typhoons.
In a Tweet made by former election commissioner Goyo Larrazabal, he said that “many people are in the dark” because ABS-CBN could have helped disseminate information about the super typhoon and how to get ready, and reach far-flung areas outside central Luzon but they were denied to renew its franchise.
Some unfavorably compared GMA to ABS-CBN’s response and coverage to Rolly.
“While GMA [was] airing The Clash, dubbed movies and cartoon shows in their GMA News TV Channel, ABS-CBN is on full coverage of weather forecast in different part of the country,” Adam Cosio Metawin criticized in a Tweet.
In a Facebook post by Jorrel Vincent Valdez, he stated that while the Bicol region is suffering from the typhoon, GMA and GMA News TV aired reruns of dubbed programs such as Pokémon. He added that in the past, ABS-CBN would suspend its regular programming to run a special coverage to the typhoon, along with ANC.
“To all those who celebrated the non-renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise, to all those who claimed that there are viable alternatives that can be accessed by those in isolated communities- pay attention. Keep a close count of every peso of property damage and life lost. Be proud you have contributed to this.” Valdez dared.
Earlier, Philippine Disaster Undersecretary Ricardo Jalad was criticized when he asked the help of the media to disseminate information about the Rolly” to areas that can only be reached by radio.
“Now, you come to [the] media for help? ABS-CBN’s Regional Network Group had the reach that can even serve far[ ]flung areas before the 70 rEpREsenTaTiVEs denied ABS-CBN their franchise, which caused them to shut down operations,” user @JotSerilo says.
The College Editors of the Philippines (CEGP) likewise blasted the government’s decision to pull ABS-CBN Regional out of the airways.
“Now, more than ever, it highlighted the importance of the ABS-CBN Regional Network group to the lives of most Filipinos as the network has indeed a wider reach in the countryside,” the CEGP said while criticizing Pres. Rodrigo Duterte and his administration for their lax management in the face of the storm, as well as Duterte’s own absence in an essential meeting.
In the same statement, CEGP national president Daryl Angelo Baybado said that the Duterte administration must be held liable for the deaths brought upon by typhoon Rolly.
“With this regard, the Duterte administration should be held accountable for the casualties that the typhoon Rolly might bring to the public, as they hindered the people from their democratic right to know about the information that matters public concern,” Baybado said.
Rolly had since left several homes and communities destroyed, with at most 10,000 homes reportedly being destroyed in Catanduanes and currently a tally of 16 dead and three missing in Bicol. Department of Agriculture (DA) secretary William Dar, meanwhile, revealed that about 20,000 farmers and fields were severely affected, leaving around a billion pesos in damages.
The Philippine Red Cross even compared the damages left by Rolly to being equal to 70% of Yolanda’s. [P]
Photo by Dianne Sanchez