Ex-ABS-CBN journalist tells lawmakers: We were never told to slant stories

Jauhn Etienne Villaruel, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 06 2020 04:12 PM | Updated as of Jul 06 2020 07:44 PM

Scenes in the newsroom during the final broadcast of TV Patrol on ABS-CBN Channel 2 following the cease and desist order of the National Telecommunications Commission, May 5, 2020. Fernando G. Sepe Jr., ABS-CBN News

MANILA — ABS-CBN journalists were never instructed to "play partisan politics" in their news coverage, a former reporter of the company told lawmakers on Monday, as the network sought to disprove allegations of "biased reporting" in its application for a fresh 25-year broadcast franchise before Congress. 

Kata Inocencio, who worked for ABS-CBN News from 1986 to 2001, testified before the House legislative franchises and good government panels and told lawmakers that the network's journalists have always maintained their independence. 

"This much I know for certain: that for 15 years that I've served in ABS-CBN News... as a Malacañang reporter, House correspondent, desk editor, news anchor, and producer, we, and I speak for the news division, have never been instructed to play favorites nor to slant stories in favor or against anyone, nor to play partisan politics," Inocencio said. 

She added that ABS-CBN reporters have always followed journalistic procedures that are in line with the profession's ethical standards and responsibilities.

"We exercise our duty as broadcast journalists 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 sides as much as possible and as available, and to be fair and balanced in our reporting," the former ABS-CBN journalist said.

ABS-CBN News chief Ma. Regina Reyes earlier told lawmakers that the network's shutdown "has deprived more than 69 million Filipinos of the kind of information, analysis and commentary, and public service provided by ABS-CBN News," among them migrant workers, and those without internet connection and are reached solely by the network's signal. 

Inocencio said she could vouch for Reyes' integrity, having worked with her during her 15-year stint with the network. 

"I have known ABS-CBN News head Ging Reyes since 1986... I know her to be a woman of integrity who practices the ethical standards of a broadcast journalist. She will never take wrongdoing sitting down," Inocencio said. 

A CHANCE TO CORRECT ITS MISTAKES

Meanwhile, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) said ABS-CBN should be given a chance to return on air with a fresh franchise and rectify its "admitted shortcomings."

"[D]espite its admitted shortcomings, the continued operations of a media organization... is more beneficial than its closure," NUJP deputy secretary-general Raymund Villanueva told lawmakers.

"We believe that that ABS-CBN should be given an opportunity to correct its mistakes it openly admits and promises to rectify," he added. 

The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) shut down ABS-CBN last May 5, a day after its previous 25-year franchise expired, despite renewal applications that had been pending in the House of Representatives since 2014.

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