[Statement] Resist the attacks on press freedom. Uphold workers’ rights -Sanlakas, BMP and PLM

Photo from SANLAKAS FB Page

Joint Statement of Sanlakas, Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino and Partido Lakas ng Masa

The Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino, Partido lakas ng Masa and Sanlakas condemn the Duterte Government’s heavy-handed attempt to silence and shut down ABS-CBN.

This is the latest in a series of aggressive frontal attacks on media institutions to intimidate them into at the very least tamed reportage and at most, submission, eroding the people’s right to a free press. To date, 112 cases of attacks and threats have been documented under the Duterte Administration including at least 13 killings of journalists. The Philippines holds the record of among the world’s deadliest countries for media. That the attacks on media workers and institutions are increasing can only be attributed to the undeterred hostility of the Government towards media as highlighted by the moves to shut down ABS-CBN.

In plain view, the Duterte Government is cementing the path towards authoritarianism the hallmarks of which include media censorship. Shutting down ABS-CBN sends a chilling effect to all media institutions signaling an imminent scenario where socio-political realities of the day are defined by Malacanang’s propaganda gurus and spin doctors. Unlike Marcos who needed martial law to achieve this, Duterte is unleashing the entire might of the government – his supermajority in the House of Representatives, the Solicitor-General and his Supreme Court – towards this end.

In the process, 11,000 workers will be displaced. This could spell poverty and hunger to tens of thousands of Filipinos who rely on their breadwinner to ensure food on the table. In Duterte’s fascist arm-twisting of ABS-CBN fueled by his personal vendetta against the company, the workers and their families have been reduced to mere sacrificial lambs – the unavoidable collateral damage to the Government’s malevolent designs against media.

We lend our unconditional support to the struggle of ABS-CBN workers for continued and secure employment. This struggle for job security is intertwined with the defense of democratic rights as the threat of displacement comes from a regime that seeks to quell civil rights and political freedoms, not only in retaliation for the non-airing of Duterte’s campaign ads in 2016 but also to prepare for its electoral plans in 2022.

It is in situations like these when the horrors of contractualization are brought to the fore. Thousands of contractual workers, in the event of ABS-CBN’s shutdown, will be booted out of work without the benefits enjoyed by their regular counterparts. We, thus, reiterate our call to regularize all workers, provide increase in wages and salaries, implement safe and humane conditions of work, and ensure the rights of workers to unionize and bargain collectively with the ABS-CBN employers.

It is worth noting that the Duterte cronies are salivating over the purchase of ABS-CBN and the equities of Lopez holdings, and with the House approval of total foreign ownership to “public service”, including wire and wireless broadcast comminication, the stage is set for the total, unfettered, and open subjugation of mainstream media by foreign monopolies.

It is highly ironic that 34 years after the 1986 People Power that ousted a dictator, we are again up against an aspiring tyrant, who is in desperate attempt to have formal absolute power over the entire state apparatus. The little that was gained by a people’s uprising that was hijacked by the anti-Marcos elite, is now being taken back by the Duterte regime. The sacrifice of the martyrs of the anti-dictatorship struggle will not be in vain. Onward with the struggle for democracy. Resist the attacks on press freedom. Uphold workers’ rights.

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