In Bacolod, media oppression, Cha-Cha hit on People Power anniv

BACOLOD CITY, Philippines – Protesters here assailed the attacks on the media and the proposals to amend the Constitution during the 32nd anniversary of EDSA People Power revolution.

Protesters marched at the city's downtown on Saturday afternoon, February 24, with stops in front of the Bishop’s House and the Negros Press Club building. They then converged at the Fountain of Justice, where they slammed the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, whom they likened to the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) and its local chapter also took part in the anniversary rites, stressing the critical role of the media during the uprising of the people on February 1986.

When Marcos declared Martial Law, one of the first things he did was to shut down the media, NUJP national director Nonoy Espina recalled. He said Marcos wants to silence the media, who report the truth and information to the public.

Even if there was a clamping down on the press, persistent journalists fought back, which paved for the birth of mosquito press, he said. In Negros Occidental, it’s called Cobra-Ans, he recalled.

“We all thought that democracy was given back to the people. 32 years later, our democracy is being taken away,” he said.

He said the Duterte administration wants to silence the media, “but we will not allow it.”

He added the media serves as watchdogs against the abuses in the government.

Hindi ta sugtan pahiposon ang media. Ang siling nila ang media wala dapat may gina apinan, sala ina! Kay ang media dapat may gina apinan, ano? Ang interest sang pumuloyo, so isa kita tanan,” he said.

(Let’s not allow them to silence the media. They say the media should have no biases, that’s wrong. We should take a side, and that side should be the interests of the people. We are one.)

He also called on the public to stand with the media, “if they can silence the media, the public will also lose their voice.”

For her part, NUJP-Bacolod chair Marchel Espina called on her colleagues “to assert our voices and resist media oppression.”

“We have a President dictating us what or what we should not cover. We have a President who will ban a media entity from covering the Palace just because he doesn’t like how they go about their coverages. We have a President who threatens to shut down media outlets just because they are being critical of this administration,” she said.

She added: “we are not anti-administration or pro-administration, we are journalists and it’s time for us to do our jobs... we are not here to make them look good to the public.”

Silencing the press is a threat to our democracy, she said.

No to charter change

Father Chris Gonzales, director of Social Action Center of the Bacolod Diocese, said the Constitution belongs to the people.

“This Constitution was the product of our freedom after Martial Law, so we have to protect it,” he said.

He added: “The 1987 Constitution is not perfect, it also needed amendment, but it needs to retain its flawless provisions.”

He pointed out that there are those who died to protect the Constitution. “Let us not forget that the power and sovereignty we give to the government is ours, we have to protect it.”

Michael de la Concepcion, secretary-general of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan)-Negros, said the People Power anniversary commemorates the people power that ousted a dictator.

“This is a warning to Mr. Duterte, who is nearing on his full dictatorship if the Charter Change will pass,” he said.

“We have to stop it. We should not wait to the point that it’s already a Constitutional dictatorship,” he said. –