MANILA, 7 May 2020 – Responding to the shutdown of ABS-CBN last Tuesday, Renato Redentor Constantino, executive director of the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities, said:
“We have always considered media as part of a category that’s been made popular today by the pandemic: media performs essential work. Media is essential with or without our current setting, just as press freedom is fundamental to any society that values democracy. This freedom is as vital to society as oxygen is to a human being, with or without an emergency.
“The renewal of the franchise granted to ABS-CBN is not and should never be subject to the political battles our public institutions and leaders seem to be constantly waging on one another. Together with countless Filipinos, including some of the highest officials in the land, we call on and expect the House of Representatives to accomplish their task to renew the ABS-CBN franchise without further delay. We expect as well that assistance will be extended to press unions so they can enhance their ability to protect workers employed by and associated with ABS-CBN during this perilous period. We need to support the heroic efforts of medical workers, volunteers, government agencies, businesses, communities, and media fighting to keep COVID-19 from overwhelming our health and economic systems.
“A free press that is able to pursue its duty to the fullest extent it can literally spells the difference between life and death in times of crisis. There is simply no alternative to an informed citizenry. Mass media is and will always be an essential, irreplaceable element of society — one that we will always need if we are to survive and thrive amidst the multiple crises confronting the world, and our nation, today. Flatten the curve, not the press.”