Health workers slam ‘treacherous’ shutdown of ABS-CBN amid COVID-19 crisis
MANILA, Philippines — A group of health workers on Wednesday decried the shutdown of ABS-CBN, the country’s largest television network, amid the coronavirus crisis.
“We are outraged that in the midst of COVID-19 pandemic, the NTC treacherously ordered the shutdown of ABS-CBN,” the Alliance of Health Workers (AHW) said in a statement.
ABS-CBN went off the air on Tuesday evening in compliance with the cease and desist order of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) after its franchise to operate had expired.
The group noted how the network has championed “sincere and dedicated service to the Filipino people” by bringing news and entertainment.
“ABS CBN has always been with us for so many years now, covering AHW’s activities and bringing to the public and government authorities’ attention the issues and concerns of our frontline healthcare workers, especially in this time of the pandemic, economic crisis and rising tyranny of state forces,” the group said.
“For the sake of the eleven thousand employees of ABS CBN and the millions of Filipinos who rely on their help, AHW is one with the people in calling for the renewal of ABS CBN franchise,” it added.
NTC released the order after ABS-CBN’s legislative franchise expired on May 4.
Lawmakers were expecting the NTC to release a provisional franchise to allow the network to remain in operation and give the House of Representatives time to discuss issues hounding the media giant.
President Rodrigo Duterte had earlier publicly threatened to block the franchise renewal of ABS-CBN.
Late last year, Duterte even vowed that he will see to it that ABS-CBN will be “out.”
A month before the franchise of ABS-CBN expired, Solicitor General Jose Calida filed a quo warranto petition before the Supreme Court, asking that the legislative franchises of ABS-CBN Corp. and its subsidiary ABS-CBN Convergence Inc., be revoked, citing what he described as “highly abusive practices” of the network.
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