ABS-CBN News head Ging Reyes emphasized the importance of journalism to Filipinos as she defended her news organization from allegations of media bias at the 12th legislative hearing for the ABS-CBN franchise at the House of Representatives today, July 6.
“Every reporter, writer, producer, anchor, every editor, in the newsroom knows that what we do is not just a job. It is a response to a call to tell the truth and work for a cause greater than ourselves,” Reyes said in her opening statement.
She also stressed that as professional journalists, they have strived “to keep biases in check and to report on newsworthy events, persons, and issues in an accurate, fair, and balanced manner.
Reyes said truth-telling and public service is the goal of every journalist as they brave every disaster to provide news and information that can save lives, or when they tell the stories behinds the statistics, and give voice to Filipinos in need.
According to her, these are the things they are struggling to do after two cease and desist orders issued against ABS-CBN, one on May 5, and the other on June 30.
Reyes said Filipinos have been on the losing end since then, especially those in far-flung areas that only the network could reach, and those who cannot afford cable TV or internet.
“The shutdown has deprived more than 69 million Filipinos of the kind of information analysis and commentary and public service provided by ABS-CBN News. It has cut off our reach such that two out of three viewers are unable to watch our news programs,” she said.
In the performance of their duty, Reyes admitted they also make mistakes, which they immediately correct. She added that the company has mechanisms for handling mistakes such as an independent network ombudsman that receives, investigates, and makes recommendations on complaints against news personnel, and a standards and practices unit that ensures journalists adhere to their own code of ethics and observe the highest professional and ethical standards.
Former ABS-CBN News anchor and reporter Kata Inocencio, meanwhile, testified to the integrity of the news organization she was a part of for 15 years from 1986 to 2001.
“We have never been instructed to play favorites, nor to slant stories in favor or against anyone, nor to play partisan politics. We exercise our duty as broadcast journalist based on the ethical standards and responsibilities expected of a professional journalist who is sworn to tell the truth and nothing but the truth, to remain impartial, to air both and all sides as much as possible and as available, and to be fair and balanced in our reporting,” she said.
Inoncencio, who is now part of the Christian Broadcasting Network, appealed to the lawmakers to grant a franchise to ABS-CBN, which have been their partners for various religious, inspirational, and education programs like the 700 club and children’s programs like “Superbook” and “Oyayi.”
“It is our earnest prayer to God and our appeal to this honorable house, that you grant ABS-CBN its franchise so that all sectors of our society may be served. Thank you very much and may God bless the Philippines,” she said.