Why stop ABS-CBN when it helps in efforts vs. COVID-19 more than POGOs? – Robredo
MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo questioned on Tuesday the government’s intentions in shutting down media giant ABS-CBN while being keen on the reopening of Philippine offshore gaming operations (POGOs).
Robredo on Tuesday stressed that of the two institutions, ABS-CBN obviously has more significance and had been providing more assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic compared to the POGO operations, which have been targets of police raids for illegal activities.
“It’s really surprising that ABS-CBN will be closed while POGOs are allowed to reopen. It’s not hard to determine which of the two has been helping in the response to the crisis we are facing now,” Robredo said in a statement in Filipino.
She also noted that ABS-CBN’s provision of information while the whole country was in a public health emergency was vital, and shutting down the network might cost lives — both of those working for the company and people who would lose the chance to hear news from their outlets.
“This free flow of information literally saves lives. Closing down ABS-CBN costs lives, on top of unnecessarily burdening the thousands who will lose their jobs,” Robredo explained.
“In this time of crisis and fear in our society, we are relying on the free flow of correct and timely information so that we could give our actions form and direction. In that way, we can pinpoint who needs help and where they are,” she added.
Earlier on Tuesday, ABS-CBN stopped its free television and radio broadcasts after the National Telecommunications Commission issued the cease-and-desist order a day after the network’s franchise expired.
The shutdown of the network came despite NTC’s assurance to Congress that ABS-CBN’s broadcast would not be interrupted while discussions on the issues hounding the media giant was being discussed at the House of Representatives.
Robredo, seen as the figurehead of the opposition, also scored government officials for removing an integral part of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic — which appears to be against the administration’s battlecry of “bayanihan,” or community cooperation.
“Why is this being done at this time when we are facing a severe crisis? There should be no place for harassment and self-interest at a time when we should be helping each other,” she said.
“We should be all hands on deck. All social institutions— including media— should be united under a single purpose: To secure the safety and lives of every Filipino,” she added.
NTC Deputy Commissioner Edgardo Cabarios earlier reasoned out that the cease-and-desist order stemmed from the questions on the validity of the franchise — although he did not explicitly mention whether it was due to Solicitor General Jose Calida’s quo warranto petition at the Supreme Court.
Calida last February filed a quo warranto petition against ABS-CBN for supposedly hiding foreign ownership behind a corporate veil.
ABS-CBN has been on the receiving end of criticism from President Rodrigo Duterte for their alleged biased coverage of him, and for failing to air his advertisements in the 2016 presidential elections. Previously, Duterte said that he would see to it that the network would be shut down.
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