ABS-CBN’s regional stations missed after Odette’s wrath in Visayas, Mindanao

December 20, 2021 - 6:39 PM
Houses and trees damaged by typhoon Rai are seen, in Surigao del Norte province, Philippines, December 18, 2021. Picture taken December 18, 2021. (Philippine Coast Guard/Handout via Reuters)

Some reporters and other Filipinos brought up the importance of ABS-CBN’s regional stations in reporting about disasters in far-flung areas.

This came after some social media users questioned the perceived lack of media coverage for Visayas and Mindanao that were badly hit by Typhoon “Odette” (international name: Rai).

“Is it just me or is there not enough media covering this national emergency?” one Twitter user asked.

“Disappointed to see less to no news about Cebu and its storm ravaged neighbors in the news and socials. When Luzon and its cities go through calamities, news and donation drives were left and right,” another Twitter user wrote.

According to the latest report of the Office of Civil Defense, the badly-hit areas include Palawan, Dinagat Islands, Cebu, Bohol, Southern Leyte, Surigao City and Siargao Islands.

Significance of ABS-CBN’s regional stations

Several reporters and other Filipinos recalled the importance of ABS-CBN’s Regional Network Group in broadcasting updates and situations during the height of disasters in provinces.

“Mahalaga talaga ang papel ng ABS-CBN Regional Network Group lalo na sa panahon ng kalamidad,” reporter MJ Felipe said.

“The vital role of having ABS-CBN and Regional Network Group (RNG) reports on free TV and on DZMM. We are missing the regional situationers especially during typhoons and calamities, hotlines for donations, and experts’ opinions. Information truly saves lives,” reporter Gretchen Fullido added.

“Where is ABS-CBN RNG when it is needed most? People are being deprived of information on what’s happening in hard-to-reach areas. Yes, other news media organizations also give updates but these are not enough,” educator Danilo Arao said.

Annie Perez-Gallardo, a regional correspondent of ABS-CBN News, shared how they now bear the brunt of the consequences of losing their regional networks in typhoon coverages.

“It’s so disappointing and frustrating because we can’t amplify the situation the way we want it to be. A lot of people are reaching out to me about their families in South Cebu,” Gallardo said.

“Telco signals are like sh*t, we can’t communicate well. I cannot move around as much because I am also conserving my resources. WE ARE NOT THE SAME REGIONAL REPORTERS AS BEFORE – we now have lean manpower and scarce resources,” she added.

Gallardo also asked for patience and understanding from citizens given their predicament.

“Also please don’t say media is useless today since your area was not reported because we are also caught in this. No power and no water, me and my colleagues are having a hard time. Wala’y kaligo-ay! It is a tough time, please pray for us,” she said.

Writer Jerry Gracio also provided a picture of how far the reach of ABS-CBN’s regional reach was before.

“Nakalatag ang mga estasyon ng ABS-CBN sa mga pangunahing siyudad sa Visayas: Iloilo, Kalibo, Bacolod, Dumaguete, Cebu, Bohol, Tacloban, at Calbayog. Sa Mindanao, ang mga estasyon sa Cagayan de Oro, Bukidnon, Ozamis, Iligan, Butuan, Surigao, Davao, Gen. Santos, Cotabato, Zamboanga, Pagadian, at Jolo ay 24 oras na nangangalap ng balita at impormasyon sa kani-kanilang mga lugar,” Gracio said.

“May TV Patrol sa Central Visayas, Negros, Panay, at Eastern Visayas na nagbibigay ng impormasyon sa mga lengguwahe ng Kabisayaan. Sa Mindanao, may TV Patrol North, Central, at Southern Mindanao sa mga wika ng rehiyon, at may TV Patrol Chavacano. Apat ang regional program ng ABS-CBN sa Mindanao, kumpara sa nag-iisang One Mindanao channel ng GMA,” he added.

Last year, following the onslaught of typhoon “Ambo” (international name: “Vongfong”), some reporters and other Filipinos also renewed the call to bring back ABS-CBN and its other radio and television stations on air again.

READ: Closure of ABS-CBN broadcast operations affects Filipinos in far-flung areas amid Ambo’s onslaught 

TV Patrol’s regional stations across the country were among the casualties of the broadcasting firm’s massive shutdown after its license expired on May 5, 2020.

READ: TV Patrol’s regional stations, ABS-CBN reporters bid goodbye after years in public service 

In July of last year, 70 members of The House Committee on Legislative Franchises denied with finality ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal application.

READ: Who’s who: A rundown of votes during ABS-CBN franchise renewal final hearing