#CagayanNeedsHelp and other related hashtags have been trending on Twitter and other social media sites since midnight of November 14, after several viral videos and photos were posted online, showing residents of Tuguegarao, in horrifying agony as they desperately pleaded for help.
This prompted netizens, celebrities, and other concerned groups to amplify their call for an immediate and effective response from the government, which sent #NasaanAngPangulo back to Twitter’s trending topics again.
The extreme flooding in Cagayan Valley is being attributed to the inordinately large volume of rain which typhoon Ulysses dropped on many parts of Luzon and Magat Dam’s continued release of excess water. This was why most towns and cities in region remain submerged in water. It is also important to note that Cagayan Valley is a catch basin for the Cagayan River and its many river tributaries. That and the uninterrupted downstream of rivers whose waters come from reservoirs in the mountains, seem to be the culprit why the region and its people are suffering at the moment.
Lack of Information Dissemination
Magat Dam authorities claimed they issued warnings and announcements via their social media pages before they released excess water from the dam. However, most affected residents argued that such information never reached them.
As widespread flooding also prompted local electric cooperatives to shut down electric supply, charging phones became increasingly difficult for affected citizens who may rather opt to save their battery’s charge for later and more important use. During the onslaught of Ulysses, telecommunication lines were also compromised, making communications between citizens and concerned government agencies in the area very challenging.
However, there was another pressing issue that netizens pointed out could have prepared Cagayan Valley’s residents and might have spared lives from Typhoon Ulysses’ wrath, if it was properly addressed and resolved, prior to the arrival of the string of powerful typhoons that have been hitting the country since October—the absence of a large and comprehensive news network in the region, which may have greatly helped effective information dissemination in Cagayan Valley.
Shut-down of RNG Stations in the Region
ABS-CBN had at least three relay stations in the entire Cagayan Valley, including the ones in Isabela, Aparri, and Tuguegarao in Cagayan. Three local editions of ABS-CBN’s flagship newscast, TV Patrol—TV Patrol Tuguegarao, TV Patrol Isabela, and TV Patrol Cagayan Valley—served the region before TV Patrol North Luzon (ABS-CBN Baguio) became the local newscast to cover the entire Northern Luzon. This was later on canceled following ABS-CBN’s Regional Network Group’s shutdown in August.
Undoubtedly, ABS-CBN News was the largest and most expansive news network in the region, serving the entire Cagayan Valley and adjacent areas with local news that residents need, aside from the national news fed to them by TV Patrol’s main newscast in Manila.
How the 6 Cagayan Valley Lawmakers’ No Vote to ABS-CBN Franchise Renewal Affected News and Information Dissemination in the Region
Aside from the three ABS-CBN TV stations that used to serve the valley, MOR 91.3 in Santiago, Isabela, could also have helped information dissemination in the region. ABS-CBN’s AM Station, DZMM, also reaches the region, as many citizens claim. It can be recalled that during the onslaught of Typhoon Quinta, Super Typhoon Rolly, and the most recent Typhoon Ulysses, Teleradyo and ANC, were among those few channels who carried out special coverages of the typhoons.
Retweeting this clip.
Information is key, but some were selfish to even acknowledge ABS-CBN’s reach.
DZMM & our Regional Network Group could have helped with the info dissemination & updates.
But you killed them. https://t.co/8JzrsRnL2t
— Jacque Manabat (@jacquemanabat) November 14, 2020
Cagayan Valley Legislators’ Vote to Kill ABS-CBN’s franchise
It is extremely important to note that six of the region’s 12 legislative districts were part of the House panel on congressional franchises and all voted to deny ABS-CBN’s franchise application on July 10, 2020.
These six congressmen—Antonio Albano, Alyssa Sheena Tan, Faustino V “Inno” Dy, Faustino Michael Carlos III T. Dy of 1st, 3rd, 4th, 6th and 5th districts of Isabela, respectively, and Samantha Louise Alfonso Vergara of Cagayan Province’s 2nd district—all voted “YES” in favor of denying ABS-CBN a fresh 25-year franchise, scrapping the embattled media giant’s legal right to continue its free tv operations across the country, and thereby forcing shut all its RNG offices in every region. Because of this, local TV Patrol newscasts and other locally produced news and current affairs programs also bade farewell on-air.
Crippled News-Gathering Capacity
The shutdown of ABS-CBN’s Regional Network Group, and all its provincial stations, has undoubtedly practically crippled ABS-CBN’s local news-gathering capacity. There may be other news agencies trying to fill in the void left by ABS-CBN News in terms of news and information dissemination in the region, but the fact that most netizens and the Cagayan Valley people, themselves, are feeling the hurt caused by the shutdown of ABS-CBN stations in the region.
Still, many netizens commend ABS-CBN News for their presence, albeit limited, and ABS-CBN News’ past and ongoing extensive coverage of the wrath of the recent typhoons, noting how other news organizations’ lack coverage compared to ABS-CBN’s.
Holding Those At Fault Accountable
As the consequences of ABS-CBN’s shutdown continues to manifest, especially these days when news and information are vital to saving lives from calamities such as earthquakes and typhoons, concerned citizens and loyal Kapamilyas could not help but ask how those Congressmen who denied ABS-CBN a new franchise—particularly those six from Cagayan valley—are feeling at this moment, knowing their vote four months ago, is partly to blame for the lack of life-saving news and information dissemination in the region? What are these lawmakers doing right now to attend to the needs of their constituents, and can we really hold them accountable for what is happening to their people right now?