Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Host of axed radio show cries gov’t suppression

Host of axed radio show cries gov’t suppression

First posted 05:56am (Mla time) Mar 28, 2006
By Alcuin Papa

Editor's Note: Published on page A1 of the Mar. 28, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

A HOST of a radio program on dzRJ yesterday claimed the “warm relations” between the Jacinto family owners of the station and the family of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was the reason his show was canceled.

Bernie Ramos, host of “Buhay Manggagawa,” which has been on the air since 1987, also said the cancellation was part of efforts to silence criticism of the Arroyo administration.

“DZRJ axed Buhay Manggagawa because we refused to become an instrument and mouthpiece of Malacañang,” Ramos told the Inquirer. “The oppression of media and attempts to limit free speech that is critical to this administration is the reason (our show was canceled). We don’t see any other reason.”

The station’s financial comptroller, Erlinda Legaspi, gave a different explanation.
“The real reason why the program was canceled was because their contract was not renewed. Pinapalaki nila ang issue (They are exaggerating the issue),” she said.

Asked why the contract was not renewed, Legaspi said: “I have no comment about that.”

The Inquirer called station owner Ramon Jacinto, the rock musician, but was told he was out of his office. The Inquirer asked for a return call.

Program executive director Daisy Arago asserted the contract’s termination was “directly related to the crackdown on progressive workers’ organizations and critics of Ms Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.”

“The station wants us out simply because of our difference in political standpoint,” said Arago.

According to Ramos, the first wife of Jacinto was a sister of First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo.

“So there was probably pressure on RJ. It’s also related to [Presidential] Proclamation No. 1017 to make sure all the scandals would not get out to the public,” Ramos alleged.

He added: “Although PP 1017 or the state of national emergency was already lifted, the suppression of progressive and critical media organizations and programs continues. Apparently, the Arroyo administration continues to silence those who oppose and criticize her. We are deeply saddened and disappointed that dzRJ was forced to serve as an instrument of denying the workers a venue to air their causes, issues and sentiments.”

He said that as far back as July 2005, the station’s managers told him and his co-host, Me-Ann Yazon, to tone down their commentaries and stop playing parts of the “Hello Garci” tapes and songs critical of the Arroyo administration.

The tapes dealt with an alleged collusion between Ms Arroyo and former Election Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano to rig the results of the 2004 election. Ms Arroyo and Garcillano have denied the allegation.

“We were told then that whatever the stand of management is, it should also be our stand. Of course, we didn’t agree,” Ramos said.

On March 6, Ramos said Legaspi informed him that the program was being canceled. He said Legaspi told him the station was “repackaging” its programs.

Last show

Ramos said the program still had up to March 31 to air, based on the quarterly contract. He was later told the program’s last airing date would be March 26.

“Even before we got off the air, we got text messages this month saying we (the hosts) and our guests should avoid criticizing President Arroyo. But we are an advocacy program focused on labor problems. If there are policies that affect laborers, like the EVAT (expanded value-added tax) and Charter change, we criticize them.”

Ramos also reacted to statements made by the station management that it had the prerogative to cancel their program.

2nd to fall

“Management says it’s their prerogative to cancel programs that are not constructive. So that means issues like wage increases and increases in electrical bills are not constructive for them. But it’s constructive for all,” Ramos said.

“Buhay Manggagawa” was the second program taken off the air on dzRJ in recent weeks.

The award-winning “Ngayon na Bayan” lost its block time on dzRJ hours after Ms Arroyo declared a state of national emergency on Feb. 24.

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