‘What Duterte wants, Duterte gets’
MANILA, Philippines — “It sends a clear message: What Duterte wants, Duterte gets.”
That was what the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) on Tuesday said after the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) handed down a cease and desist order against ABS-CBN after its legislative franchise expired on Monday, May 4.
In a statement, the NUJP said slammed the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte for carrying out an “underhanded assault” of freedom of the press during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
The NUJP noted that the move came two days after the World Press Freedom Day, and after Solicitor General Jose Calida warned the NTC of granting provisional authority to ABS-CBN while its franchise is still pending before Congress.
“All this stems from President Rodrigo Duterte’s personal vendetta against the network, whose franchise renewal he pledged to block,” the NUJP said.
“No matter that this is a slap on Congress, which has the sovereign power to decide on matters of franchise and which explicitly asked the NTC to allow ABS-CBN to continue operating while it deliberates the bills to renew the network’s franchise,” the group added, referring to NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba’s word last March that the network will be allowed to operate beyond May 4.
“No matter that the closure of a major media network would deprive our people of a major source of information at a time when information could spell life and death as we battle the pandemic.”
“It sends a clear message: What Duterte wants, Duterte gets. And it is clear, with this brazen move to shut down ABS-CBN, that he intends to silence the critical media and intimidate everyone else into submission,” the NUJP said.
In an interview over DZMM, NUJP President Nonoy Espina said that for him, the shutdown of ABS-CBN is the government’s way of saying “We do not care about your rights, we do not care about your freedom.”
“I think they have crossed a line hindi lang sa (not just in) media, kundi yung taong bayan (but that off the whole nation) [and they] should not allow this. We have to push back on this,” Espina said.
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