By Agusan del Norte 1st District Rep. Lawrence Fortun on COVID-19 and ABS-CBN. Fortun opposed the shutdown of the television network and voted for the renewal of its 25-year franchise that was denied by the House of Representatives
The shutdown of ABS-CBN is contributing to the aggravation of the COVID-19 crisis in the country
“Millions of Filipinos depend on ABS-CBN tv and radio programs for their news. There is a language barrier. Most of the COVID-19 information is in English and Filipino. Few and far between are information in Cebuano, Waray, Bicol, and Arabic”
When a large part of our population is deprived of access to information, the more difficult and problematic our efforts at curbing the spread of the disease become. The denial of the network’s franchise sealed NTC’s shut down order against the network and will now cut off a major source of information of millions of Filipinos who depend on ABS-CBN tv and radio programs for their news.
That is the reality on the ground. Only 55% of Filipinos have smartphones and only 4 million Filipinos have broadband connections for full access to news on the internet and social media.
There is also a language barrier. Most of the COVID-19 information is in English and Filipino. Few and far between are information in Cebuano, Waray, Bicol, and Arabic
One of the features of the anti-COVID-19 measures in Regions 1 and 2 is the pervasive use of Ilocano. They were effective there because they communicated in the language almost everybody there could understand.
ABS-CBN News has regional news on radio and tv. This is one of the network’s strengths. But because they are off the air, TV news and public affairs programs in local regional languages have nearly vanished.
It is regrettable that this unwarranted shutdown happened at a time of indispensable need to reach all our people to disseminate useful information and guidance in our war against COVID-19.