MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Media groups nationwide condemned the order of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to shut down the operations of media giant ABS-CBN.
In Northern Luzon, members of the Baguio Correspondents and Broadcasters Club Incorporated (BCBC Inc) and the Baguio-Benguet chapter of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) to protest the closure of ABS-CBN.
They assembled at the Baguo City Hall on Wednesday, May 6, wearing face masks displaying letters that expressed their solidarity with ABS-CBN. “Don’t gag media,” the face masks read.
In Central Luzon, the Pampanga Press Club (PPC) condemned the “silencing” of the network.
“Forcing ABS-CBN to sign off to make it comply with NTC’s order is silencing ABS-CBN. And that is making press freedom— and the right of the Filipinos to be informed—an expendable item in this lingering franchise issue,” the PPC said.
The the timing is also wrong given the country’s current battle against the coronavirus pandemic, the group said.
“The PPC also condemns in the strongest term the timing of NTC’s order to ABS-CBN to stop broadcasting. It came at a time when the Filipinos are dealing with starvation, unemployment and many uncertainties resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. It is not only wrong timing. It is insensitive as well,” PPC said in a statement on Thursday, May 7.
The PPC statement was shared by its president, journalist Tonette Orejas, on her Facebook page.
The Pampanga journalists took issue against NTC’s failure to deliver an earlier commitment to give ABS-CBN a provisional authority to operate while Congress deliberates the renewal of its franchise.
“We expect Congress to grant ABS-CBN a franchise with no conditionalities. Only Congress can exercise and assert its authority in granting franchises to certain enterprises with bearing on national patrimony,” PPC said.
In Southern Luzon, the Bicol chapter of NUJP issued a statement of suport and solidarity with ABS-CBN.
“The government’s move through the NTC is a shameful act and a deliberate blow against the freedom of the press and the flow of information,” the statement said.
“We stand in solidarity with ABS-CBN and the 11,000 employees left jobless due to the whims and caprices of men and power within the corridors of Malacanang,” it added.
In the Visayas, the Cebu chapter of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) also condemned the timing of NTC’s order.
“We are faced with the COVID-19 pandemic and, of course, we need as many channels of information,” said KBP-Cebu President Reverend Father Bobby Ebisa, station manager of dyRF radio station.
The Cebu Citizens-Press Council (CCPC) also called on the government to give ABS-CBN due course.
“The shutdown of ABS-CBN broadcast facilities diminishes Filipinos’ sources of information and entertainment and inevitably raises charges or suspicions of repression of the press. That is acutely more destructive in these trying months of national emergency,” it said in a statement quoted by SunStar Cebu.
In Mindanao, the Mindanao Independent Pres Council (MIPC) also called for immediate government action to allow ABS-CBN to resume its operations.
“[The National Telecommunication Commission’s] action is completely inimical to the 11,000 plus workers of ABS-CBN, coming as it did as the country is still grappling from the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis,” MIPC said in a statement issued on Wednesday. – Rappler.com