DZMM Anchor Pat-P Daza Gets Candid About Her Thoughts On The ABS-CBN Shutdown
She says, "I have been receiving text messages and video messages in my social media accounts about how they miss our programs or how ABS-CBN has helped them or touched their lives. They break my heart"
Patricia "Pat" Daza has covered a wealth and breadth of issues and discussions in her seven year-long career on DZMM. As a journalist, she reports the truth and seeks impartiality, practicing the art of objectivity over and above subjectivity. It's a tough job, no doubt. But on the afternoon when her weekday program coincided with the announcement of the National Telecommunication Commission's (NTC) cease and desist order that forced ABS-CBN to go off air on Tuesday, May 5, "tough" was barely enough to describe her experiences.
"The most difficult part was containing my anger. I had to stay objective and respectful," Pat says.
She learned that the network had received the cease and desist order at around 4:30 p.m., just a few minutes after she began her program Pasada 630 which she co-anchors with Peter Musngi. Pat reported to work that day, while Peter joined her via a Zoom video call. Walking inside Pat's booth, DZMM Teleradyo head Marah Capuyan delivered the gut-punching news—ABS-CBN was going to shut down that night, and they were in the direct line of fire.
The ordinary person's knee-jerk reaction would have likely been to panic, to freeze, to stop functioning, and to swear to high heaven, but not for the journalists on that day who became responsible for sharing the news with millions of Filipino viewers and listeners.
The show had to go on, and people needed to be informed. Worrying about their livelihoods, futures, and freedom as members of the press would have to wait—all this, as the Philippines celebrated World Press Freedom Day just two days before.
Pat and her colleagues immediately got to work despite the anger, shock, and disbelief begging to be paid attention to first.
She recalls, "[Marah] asked Alvin Elchico to join me in the booth, since Alvin just interviewed Deputy Commissioner Ed Cabarios of NTC. We tried calling Cabarios on air, but his phone was unattended. We interviewed Nonoy Espina, Chairman of National Union of Journalists in the Philippines (NUJP) who decried the act of NTC as suppression of press freedom, specially just two days after we celebrated press freedom!"
In the booth while she wears her journalist hat, Pat is calm and collected, despite having to sometimes clench her jaw to remain as such. Outside of it, where she is first and foremost a Filipino, she expresses her anger freely, not unlike her fellow Kapamilya Coco Martin whose passionate remarks about the shutdown have made headlines.
They did manage to speak to Representative Carlos Zarate of Bayan Muna and Representative Tonypet Albano, vice chair House committee on legislative franchises, both of whom were equally livid and distraught. Following the steps taken to address the issues surrounding ABS-CBN's franchise renewal, Pat said that "both congressmen expressed anger at the sudden order of NTC, despite their earlier assurance to Congress that they will allow ABS-CBN to operate until such time that Congress decides on the franchise renewal. To them it was an outright betrayal and Representative Albano also threatened to abolish NTC, or give them one-peso budget next year."
The NTC gave ABS-CBN 10 days to respond to its cease and desist order. On May 7, ABS-CBN filed a temporary restraining order in the Supreme Court to halt the order's implementation.
As the country waits for the latest developments, Pat reflects on the events of the last week, sharing her thoughts, feelings, and what ABS-CBN's closure means to her as a journalist.
She wants to be heard loud and clear. So loud and crystal clear, in fact, that she leaves no room for her message's intended receivers to misconstrue her.
"When I got a copy of the cease and desist order, I hurriedly read it and tried to understand, but there were so many questions going on inside my head. Initially, it was disbelief, then shock and then eventually anger," Pat says emphatically.
One can imagine how her family had shared her feelings and met her with a barrage of questions the second she stepped foot at home after that day's shift.
"They were asking so many questions and were worried. It was difficult to assure them, most specially my youngest son, Paolo, who was very upset. But as the hours passed, and I was reading all the messages of support, I became hopeful and knew it was just a matter of time before we go back on air," Pat shares.
Speaking of support, the most powerfully reassuring words heard by all of ABS-CBN's employee that day were heard from the network's CEO and president himself, Carlo Katigbak, as well as chairman Mark Lopez. The executives went on air immediately after news program TV Patrol signed off in compliance with the NTC, and even participated in a live chat with ABS-CBN's employees later that evening to share messages that Pat describes as "reassuring and heartwarming to say the least."
"I spoke to some officers of ABS-CBN and they reassured us that the company is exhausting all legal remedies to put us back on the air," she adds.
For all the network's employees—and not only the 11,000 directly affected by the shutdown—support has become an invaluable weapon needed to power through these trying times.
Pat says, "The outpour of support has been overwhelming and it gives all the employees of ABS-CBN the courage to fight back. I have been receiving text messages and video messages in my social media accounts about how they miss our programs or how ABS-CBN has helped them or touched their lives. They break my heart."
ABS-CBN employees are taught that they work in order to be in the service of the Filipino. For those who work in the company's newsrooms, that means they get up, get dressed, and clock in to fulfill the Filipino's public service needs, delivering crucial and timely information needed for them to stay abreast of issues, events, and stories that are of value to their lives.
With ABS-CBN off the air, Pat worries about the Filipinos who rely on them not only for news, but for its entertainment programs, too, to gain a little respite as the country continues to struggle against a much bigger problem in the form of an invisible enemy. And as for press freedom in this country, she fears for that, too.
It's also why she questions the timing and motive of those behind the move—why now, when there are a thousand and one more pressing issues the country must resolve? What for, when after February's Senate hearing, it was found that ABS-CBN had not violated any laws, including laws related to its franchise renewal? And how was this given the go signal, when the NTC had sworn under oath that it would allow ABS-CBN to remain on air, even after its franchise had expired?
View this post on Instagram
I question the timing and the motive...but I will be steadfast and continue to believe that we will overcome this. We will knock on the hearts of every Filipino that ABS-CBN has touched and served and collectively we will storm and maybe even run down the gates of heaven. #WeDidNotViolateAnyLaws
"I question the timing and the motive, because what was the rush? Why couldn’t it wait until the country gets over this pandemic? When the government is asking us to stay at home, you cut off our signal and deprive the millions of Filipino people who are at home worried, anxious, and desperate for news and entertainment. Why did the NTC assure Congress that they will give ABS-CBN provisional authority only to renege at the last minute on May 5, a day after our franchise expires? Why single out ABS-CBN? There are other franchises expiring yet they continue to operate," Pat exclaims.
Pat joins other Kapamilyas in wondering when this will have blown over, when ABS-CBN will prove once again that it is more than capable of greeting the dawn after the deepest, blackest night.
It's been a week since Pat had to say a temporary goodbye to work as she knew it, but she will continue to do her job as an ABS-CBN journalist with the resources she's afforded.
"I enjoy my stint as an anchor since it gives me an opportunity to inform our viewers and listeners what’s happening in the country with intelligent discussions and interviews from SMEs on current issues. I take to heart that people trust us for our accurate and fair reporting while entertaining them as well. In this age of fake news, it is important we are responsible broadcasters," she says.
Despite the shutdown, DZMM will continue to air on other platforms including TFC, channel 26 on Sky Cable, channel 5 on TV Plus, its radio app, iWant, news.abs-cbn.com, Facebook live, and YouTube.
When a big door closes, many windows open—some with even better, more beautiful views of the world outside.
As for those who support ABS-CBN and are, or wish to be, part of the #NoToABSCBNShutdown protest, Pat wants to tell you this: go for it. She's one hundred percent behind you.
"I echo the message of our president and CEO Carlo Katigbak, and knock on the hearts of every Filipino that ABS-CBN has touched to help us in our darkest hour. I encourage you to write on your social media accounts (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) #NoToABSCBNShutdown, and write to your congressman to act post haste for the renewal of our franchise. Let us not be silenced. Let our voices be heard. Let us bang the doors of NTC, Congress, the Senate and Malacañang to act swiftly. And if all else fails, let us storm the gates of heaven," she ends.
Photo from @patpdaza