Those who are in media—reporters, camera men, researchers—are still working amid the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. They have been tirelessly interviewing, gathering stories, and roaming around cities and towns to get updates on the COVID-19 situation and response in the country.
These media men and women are now being considered as frontliners, just like the doctors, nurses, soldiers, and all others who are working despite the health risk it entails. Because of their dedication to their work and their effort to keep the public informed, Pope Francis prayed specifically for them.
In a tweet on his official Twitter account, Pope Francis encouraged the public to join him in praying for media workers. “Let us #PrayTogether for men and women who work in the media. They have risked much and worked tirelessly during this pandemic. May the Lord help them always in their task to transmit the truth,” the tweet said. The Pope’s tweet was accompanied by a YouTube video of his Holy Mass at Casa Santa Marta.
However, in the Philippines, the past couple of weeks haven’t been smooth sailing for media men and women. Just two days ago, on May 5, the National Telecommunications Commission issued a cease and desist order to ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation.
ABS-CBN, one of the biggest networks in the country, and a reliable source of updates and information during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), was forced to sign off. All their free TV channels—sports, entertainment, news—have been off air since.
Aside from that, just a few hours after ABS-CBN’s shut down, a Dumaguete City-based reporter was shot dead by still unidentified gunmen. Rex Cornelio Pepino, a reporter of Energy 93.7 FM, was on a motorcycle with his wife when he was gunned down by two men also on motorcycles. He is the third journalist in Dumaguete City to be killed since 2018.
Ironically, both incidents happened just two days after the celebration of World Press Freedom Day.