Funeral wreaths sent to ABS-CBN station in CDO

Photo of wreaths from MindaNews website.

CMFR/PHILIPPINES – Unidentified persons sent three funeral wreaths to the ABS-CBN station in Cagayan de Oro on 25 July 2020 as different groups in the city held a protest against the non-renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise. Cagayan de Oro is 1,385 kilometers south of Manila.

On May 6, the National Telecommunication Commission (NTC) ordered ABS-CBN to cease its operations after its franchise expired on May 5. On July 10, the House Committee on Legislative Franchises denied ABS-CBN’s application for the renewal of its franchise, causing the network to retrench some of its employees and to stop the operation of its regional channels. ABS-CBN employees and advocates from different parts of the country are holding regular rallies calling for the return of ABS-CBN on air.

According to a MindaNews report, the local florist who delivered the wreaths said to the station’s security personnel that those who purchased the flower arrangements did not identify themselves.

The arrangements had ribbons with messages linking the ABS-CBN protest to the communist insurgency. One of the ribbons said, “Ibalik ang ABS-CBN! Isulong ang digmaang bayan! (Bring back ABS-CBN on-air! Support the people’s war)” Another said, “Mabuhay ang PKP-Bagong Hukbong Bayan. (Long lived the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army)” Some ribbons bore the names of different organizations that have been red-tagged on several occasions, including the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), the National  Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) in Mindanao, the College Editor’s Guild of the Philippines (CEGP), Bayan, Anakbayan, Kadamay, Kilusang Mayo, and the League of Filipino Students (LSF).

In a statement, NUJP called on the Cagayan De Oro Police to investigate the incident. The organization also called on the city government to ensure the safety of ABS-CBN employees and also all other people and organizations that are being red-tagged.

The incident followed several other incidents of red-tagging by different government agencies. On May 9, the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) posted in its Facebook account that the left is using the ABS-CBN protest to push its agenda.

On July 15, the Malaybalay City Police, in a now deleted post, linked ABS-CBN support to terrorism. CMFR in a September 2019 post about red-tagging said, “Red-baiting has had a deleterious effect on the exercise of press freedom vital to truth telling and democratic discourse. While its perpetrators claim to be driven by democratic values, the opposite is true: it is actually a means of attacking individuals and groups whose views on government and other public issues the current administration and its minions want to silence.”