CAGAYAN DE ORO (MindaNews / 26 July) — Three funeral wreaths were delivered to the office of the ABS-CBN TV Northern Mindanao in Barangay Bulua on Saturday night while its employees and supporters joined supporters at the Press Freedom monument downtown for a noise barrage and candle lighting activity to call for the resumption of its broadcast operations.
ABS-CBN News chief PJ Gisan said a local florist delivered the funeral wreaths.
“We are investigating who paid for these wreath,” Gisan said, adding he instructed his staff to be security conscious.
He said according to the TV station’s security guards, the florist personnel who delivered the wreaths told them those who purchased the wreaths did not identify themselves.
No person or group has come forward to claim responsibility for the wreaths on whose ribbons were written this message: “Ibalik ang ABS-CBN! Isulong and digmaang bayan!” (Bring back ABS-CBN! Support the nationalist war!),” and “Mabuhay ang” (Long live) the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, the National Union of People’s Lawyers-Union of People’s Lawyers in Mindanao, , College Editors’ Guild of the Philippines, Bayan, Anakbayan, Kadamay, Kilusang Mayo and the League of Filipino Students, and yet another ribbon strip saying “Mabuhay ang PKP-Bagong Hukbong Bayan” (Long Live the Communist Party of the Philippines-New Peoples Army).
JB R. Deveza of the NUJP Western Mindanao Safety Office said the wreaths were “clearly a form of death threats” aimed to intimidate the employees of the giant television network whose provincial stations will cease operations by end of office hours on August 31, 2020.
The House of Representatives’ Committtee on Legislative Franchises voted on July 10 to deny the renewal of the franchise of ABS-CBN. Seventy voted yes to the resolution to deny the franchise, 11 voted against the resolution, one abstained and one inhibited.
“Funeral wreaths are associated with deaths and the people behind this think this can intimidate the employees,” Deveza said.
He said the wreaths appeared to be part of a coordinated red-tagging operation which includes a fake Facebook account named Kim Chuy, which has regularly red-tagged people and organizations supportive to ABS-CBN.
Deveza said the Kim Chuy account also posted a spoof of the poster announcing the noise barrage, motorcade and candle light protest by ABS-CBN supporters.
He said the fake poster generated by Kim Chuy also red-tagged the same groups named in the wreaths.
“This is a series of incidents aimed to intimidate the ABS-CBN employees and their supporters,” Deveza said.
On July 15, the Malaybalay City police station also posted a poster on its Facebook page calling all ABS-CBN supporters as terrorists.
The Philippine National Police in Northern Mindanao ordered its police station in Malaybalay city to take down the post and issued an apology to ABS-CBN and all media groups here. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)