Lawmaker asks Calida to hit pause button in bid to shutter ABS-CBN
BUTUAN CITY—A member of the House of Representatives asked the solicitor general to set aside his legal tussle with the broadcast giant ABS-CBN in light of the COVID-19 crisis besetting the country.
Agusan Rep. Lawrence Fortun said Solicitor General Jose Calida should hit the pause button in his legal skirmish with ABS-CBN during the pandemic.
Fortun issued the statement after Calida warned the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) against giving ABS-CBN provincial authority to continue operating when its franchise expires without renewal.
Fortun said Calida should “set aside this legal skirmish for now” and NTC should “make good its commitment to Congress.”
Fortun said both chambers of Congress “have already officially expressed an unmistakable intent to grant the network provisional authority, the NTC should, as it has in the past, now issue the provisional authority.”
Fortun said the country is currently facing an unprecedented crisis and ABS-CBN had bee involved not only in disseminating information but also in generating help for health workers and the poor.
“The network’s outreach program has raised hundreds of millions of pesos,” he said. “Closing the network would exacerbate the crisis the country is facing now,” the lawmaker added.
Fortun said it would be unwise to close down a network of at least 11,000 workers at this time of crisis when the Department of Labor and Employment admitted the scarcity of funds to respond to the needs of the labor sector.
In a hearing called by the House committee on legislative franchises, the NTC committed to issue a provisional authority if the committee would adopt a resolution in support of it.
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) condemned the statement by Calida which, the NUJP noted, was issued on the day the world celebrated Press Freedom Day.
“Calida threatened ABS-CBN and the NTC amidst a vicious pandemic,” NUJP said.
The NUJP statement said it would not be good for the Filipino people if the country’s biggest media corporation would cease operations on Monday.
Edited by TSB
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