MANILA, Philippines – Most everybody was taken by surprise when the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) ordered ABS-CBN to stop operations on Tuesday, May 5.
The order was released a day after the expiration of the media giant’s congressional franchise, and nearly two months after NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba told a House panel that his agency would likely grant ABS-CBN provisional authority to operate.
A shutdown would not only cause 11,000 workers to lose jobs in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, it will also deal a serious blow to press freedom and public access to information at this time. The NTC’s order comes two days after the celebration of World Press Freedom Day.
Netizens took to Twitter to show their disapproval of the NTC order.
By Tuesday afternoon, #NoToABSCBNShutdown and ABS-CBN rose to the Philippines’ top trends on Twitter, getting more than 12,000 tweets and around 16,000, respectively.
Several people have slammed the move, pointing out how the shutdown order was made when people are most in need of verified information and reliable news outlets.
“At a time where delivery of information is crucial, it is despicable that the admin has gone through with trying to keep ABS-CBN down,” said netizen Gerard Bernardo.
At a time where delivery of information is crucial, it is despicable that the admin has gone through with trying to keep ABS-CBN down.#DefendPressFreedom #NoToABSCBNShutDown— Gerard Bernardo | #MassTestingNowPH (@thegerdberd) May 5, 2020
At a time when we need information and verification the most, this admin has ordered ABS-CBN to shut down. Well, the silver lining is that they can still speak up in spaces where there is less control. And since most of us are at home now, we will we watching and sharing.— Kip Oebanda (@kipoebanda) May 5,
Nakakadismaya ang NTC sa paglalabas ng cease and desist order upang mapatigil sa operasyon ang Abs-Cbn. Sa panahon ngayon ng pandemia, kailangan ng mamamayan ng maaasahang impormasyon at balita. #NoToABSCBNShutDown— (@_bensilog) May 5, 2020
This ABS-CBN shut down means that a big provider of quality news for the public is now gone and thousands of employees are now jobless, all in the middle of a pandemic. I stand with the station and their employees. #NoToABSCBNShutDown #DefendPressFreedom— j (@ilysbjuan) May 5, 2020
Many hit the NTC for rushing to take down the embattled media network, while the government allowed Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGO) to continue operations even with the lockdown still in place.
Allow POGOs to operate. Cease and desist order for ABS-CBN, ending jobs for tens of thousands of Filipinos. I guess you know who this government is serving.— Christian Orozco (@xtianorozco) May 5, 2020
ang bilis maglabas ng cease-and-desist order kapag filipino company like abs-cbn pero yung POGO na puro foreigner yung mga empleyado at may unpaid 50B taxes eh tinuturing na essential business ? nakakatanga lang— IMY HANBIN (@vnicaaaa) May 5, 2020
POGO: wala nang ambag sa bayan tapos nakakaperwisyo pa sa mga Pilipino— (@sayyyren) May 5, 2020
Gov't: Approve yan!
ABS-CBN: Nagbibigay serbisyo sa bayan at trabaho sa higit 11,000 empleyadong Pilipino
Gov't: Isarado yan!#DefendPressFreedom #NoToABSCBNShutDown
How the Philippines is handling a pandemic? Allow POGOs to operate which will include testing of its Chinese workers and shut down ABS-CBN that will affect thousands of Filipino employees who are in dire need of jobs. Wow, you gotta choose your battles. Who’s running this circus?— M.A. Buendía (@MABuendiaHD) May 5, 2020
Sa gitna ng pandemic na ito, naisingit niyo pa rin? Kung kailan kailangan ng maayos na pagbabalita, isasara niyo talaga? Aminin niyo man sa hindi, No.1 ang ABS-CBN. Personalan na ba talaga? #NoToABSCBNShutDown— JAON (@ashertifiedtoo) May 5, 2020
Some pointed out how ironic it was that the order came just a few days after World Press Freedom Day.
More than the movies, teleseryes, and other entertainment stuff, sobrang blatant naman na attack sa press freedom itong pagpapahinto sa operations ng ABS-CBN. At very convenient naman na sa kalagitnaan pa ng quarantine. #NoToABSCBNShutDown #DefendPressFreedom— Ardelle (@ardellecostuna) May 5, 2020
At this time when we need all the help we can, they decide to issue a Cease & Desist order to ABS-CBN. Ngayon pa talaga! They're helping so many people, we need to make sure no more jobs are lost. Most of all, we need to keep everyone informed.— Pittipat (@pittipatipot) May 5, 2020
Just a few days after World Press Freedom Day, the Duterte admin issues a Cease and Desist Order on ABS-CBN. In the face of this pandemic and the worsening violation of our civil rights, media institutions and freedom of speech must be defended! #DefendPressFreedom— calm like a bomb (@leroynavanred) May 5, 2020
Netizens warned that the shutdown of a media giant such as ABS-CBN means that smaller news outlets and critics of the administration are in danger of being silenced as well.
“If they could do that to ABS-CBN–the biggest media network in the country, paano na kaya ‘yung mga small media companies (what will happen to small media companies)? This is a clear attack on press freedom,” Twitter user @iisgiie said.
If they can blatantly silence ABS-CBN this way, they can do this to anyone speaking up against the shenanigans of this administration #NoToABSCBNShutdown— Marlon Ramos (@iammarlonramos) May 5, 2020
Imagine, if they could do that to ABS-CBN – the biggest media network in the country, paano pa kaya yung mga small media companies. This is a clear attack on press freedom.— je (@iisgiie) May 5, 2020
They also urged people to stand with ABS-CBN, defend press freedom, and remember the network’s indelible contribution to public service and the delivery of information.
Here’s what other netizens said about the matter:
ABS-CBN shutdown – Curated tweets by rapplerdotcom
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