Duterte told: File case vs ABS-CBN rather than trample on press freedom
MANILA, Philippines –Several lawmakers from the House of Representatives have advised President Rodrigo Duterte to file necessary charges against media giant ABS-CBN if he really has a legitimate grievance against the said network.
However, they also maintained that the President should not impinge on press freedom, especially since the station also operates one of the country’s largest news team.
“If President Duterte really has a grievance against the network then he should file a case against ABS-CBN rather than trample on press freedom and the jobs of at least seven thousand employees,” Bayan Muna Rep. Ferdinand Gaite said in a statement on Tuesday.
Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Rep. France Castro meanwhile said that the crackdown on ABS-CBN and other media sites seem to be stemming from a critical coverage of the administration’s policies.
“Nauna na niyang ginawa ito sa Inquirer, and he also leveled similar threats and constant verbal attacks against radio stations owned by the CBCP. Common denominator sa mga ito: reportage nila ukol sa drug war at extrajudicial killings na nangyayari dahil dito at mga posisyon ng media na kritikal sa mga polisiya niya,” she added.
(He already did it with Inquirer, and he also leveled similar threats and constant verbal attacks against radio stations owned by the CBCP. The common denominator in all of these is their reportage of the drug war and extrajudicial killings happening in the country, and the position of those critical to his policies.)
Kabataan Partylist, which has one seat in Congress, also noted that the move from Duterte reeks of Marcosian politcs — as late dictator and former president Ferdinand Marcos also once ordered the closure and seizure of various media companies during the martial law period.
“Malinaw ang gusto ng gobyerno – kontrolin ang mass media kagaya ng ginawa ng Diktador na si Marcos. Kasabay ng pagkakalat ng fake news at black propaganda sa oposisyon, gumagamit ang gobyerno ni Pangulong Duterte ng pananakot at dahas para tuluyan nang maging Diktador,” they group added.
(What the government wants is clear: control the mass media like what the dictator that is Marcos did. Along with spreading fake news and black propaganda about the opposition, President Duterte is resorting to fear-mongering and violence.)
Talks about how the ABS-CBN’s fate have peaked in recent days, especially since the franchise, granted by Congress in 1995, is set to expire on March 2020. If it expires, ABS-CBN’s television and radio broadcasts would close down.
During a speech before earthquake victims on Monday, Duterte advised the Lopez family which controls the network to sell it instead, as he is keen on vetoing any proposed bill to extend the franchise.
“Itong ABS, mag-expire ang contract ninyo. Mag-renew kayo, ewan ko lang kung may mangyari diyan. Kung ako sa inyo ipagbili niyo na ‘yan,” Duterte said.
(ABS-CBN’s contract will expire soon. Try to renew it but I don’t know if that will happen. If I were you, just sell it.)
Recently, PLDT Co. and Metro Pacific Investments head Manny Pangilinan — who owns television network TV5, said that he is open to the possibility of ABS-CBN buy airtime or block timing for them to continue airing their shows.
Pangilinan, whose company also supervises over water concessionaire Maynilad, also faced criticisms from the President, who said in the same speech that Pangilinan should be jailed.
For Gaite, Duterte’s position as a man of the masses and anti-rich is hypocritical, as he only supports another set of oligarchs — including those rumored to buy ABS-CBN.
“Duterte portrays himself as ‘anti-oligarch’ but actually supports a different clique of oligarchs. His statement that the Lopez family should just sell the network also cast another bad light on the issue because it would seem that another close friend of the president is interested in the company as what is happening with the water concessionaires,” Gaite explained.
“Congress should at least hold a hearing on the franchise of ABS-CBN this January and give them a fair shake. If not then the separation of powers of the executive and the legislative would be further exposed as a sham. Congress would again be branded as a rubber stamp of Malacanang,” he added.
Edited by JE
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