‘The work of dictators:’ Universities condemn NTC’s order to shut down ABS-CBN
MANILA, Philippines—Several universities and educators are showing their support for ABS-CBN and have condemned the decision of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to shut down the media giant amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
University of Santo Tomas
Statement of journalism educators from UST on the closure of ABS-CBNMay 5, 2020 goes down in history as a day of…
Journalism educators and professionals from the University of Santo Tomas (UST), who labeled the move as “the work of dictators,” are urging ABS-CBN to “exert all legal remedies” to overturn the NTC’s cease-and-desist order (CDO) issued on Tuesday.
“In the middle of a pandemic, broadcast industry regulators succumbed to pressure from an ‘alter-ego’ of President Rodrigo Duterte and ordered ABS-CBN, the country’s largest media network, to go off the air,” their statement read. “Duterte has declared war on the free press and this is his Pearl Harbor attack.”
“Now that ABS-CBN is out of the airwaves, and for the second time since Martial Law, there is no more denying that the Duterte regime will stop at nothing — even amid a national emergency and a crippling lockdown — to crush dissent and stifle a free and independent media. Shutting down media is the work of dictators,” they added.
The educators are also calling on lawmakers, especially those at the House of Representatives, to “stop foot-dragging” and approve the new franchise of ABS-CBN, whose previous franchise expired on May 4.
“We also call on the freedom-loving public to speak out and resist all attacks on the media and media workers, and hold the malevolent forces behind this treachery to account,” they stressed.
The UST administration likewise called out the NTC’s move, describing it a “clear disservice to the Filipino people” amid the health crisis.
“We pray that ABS-CBN will be able to resume its broadcast operations very soon to continue its invaluable service to the Filipino people and the nation,” UST noted.
University of the Philippines Diliman
The University of the Philippines (UP) College of Mass Communication stated that it “strongly decries” the order, stressing that “again, the current administration demonstrates the lengths it will go to silence media voices.”
“During this ECQ, we have witnessed the brave coverage of journalists-frontliners from ABS-CBN in covering the pandemic,” the college’s statement read.
“As we continue to battle this health crisis, we need a free press to serve as a faithful chronicler of events, a platform for the diversity of voices to be heard, and, more importantly, the public’s watchdog of inept, abusive and corrupt governance,” it added.
University of the Philippines Los Baños
OFFICIAL STATEMENT OF THE COLLEGE OF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNICATION, UP LOS BAÑOSon the NTC's cease and desist order vs….
The University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) College of Development Communication (CDC) also denounced the decision as it is a “clear attack on the freedom of the press” and a “mockery” of the World Press Freedom Day celebrated just two days prior to NTC’s order.
“ABS-CBN has been part of many Filipino households for more than 70 years and it remains to be one of their sources of reliable news and information. Shutting down ABS-CBN in the time of COVID-19 would take away their access to information, limit their capacity to make informed decisions, and rob them of one of the platforms through which they can make their voices heard,” the statement read.
“We believe that a free press and an informed citizenry are essential to a healthy democracy—these are safeguards against repression and abuses of power,” it added.
The university also called on journalists, media practitioners, and “Filipinos who value freedom of the press and freedom of expression” to resist the said attacks and to support ABS-CBN.
Ateneo De Manila University
Ateneo De Manila University President Jose Ramon Villarin shared the same sentiments with other universities and urged lawmakers to act and approve ABS-CBN’s franchise to restore its broadcast.
“We, the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU), see in the forced shutdown of ABS-CBN, shades of martial law almost 50 years ago, when the airwaves went silent as the dictatorship sought to quell the free exchange of news, information, and commentary,” Villarin stressed.
“True, ABS-CBN is not the country’s only broadcast network, but it is our largest, the one that reaches throughout the country and beyond. ABS-CBN’s closure extinguishes the brightest light in our information firmament and leaves the smaller ones in darkness and peril,” he added.
The ADMU president emphasized that the NTC “made good the threats of President Duterte” to block the franchise renewal, as Congress “took the cue” and failed to schedule hearings even when the franchise’s expiration date drew near.
“This absence of a congressional franchise is now NTC’s reason for ordering ABS-CBN’s closure,” he added.
Polytechnic University of the Philippines
READ: THE OFFICIAL STATEMENT OF THE PUP JOURNALISM GUILD ON ABS-CBN'S SHUTDOWN DUE TO CEASE-AND-DESIST ORDER EXECUTED BY…
The Polytechnic University of the Philippines Journalism Guild meanwhile condemns what it calls “the darkest era of today’s democracy” caused by the apparent inaction of lawmakers and regulators.
“For the first 75 days of 2020, the legislators’ inaction over this issue has fed frustrations and disappointments especially to those who are working in the name of free speech. As the world battles COVID-19, we have to ask the authorities whether freedom of the press and hunger for information are viruses worth eliminating,” the guild noted.
“The administration and its allies’ response to society’s major problems are getting worse. Prior to President Rodrigo Duterte’s acceptance of the network’s apologies for the failed airing of his advertisement, his cold relationship with ABS-CBN is a clear sign of his administration’s hate over free speech that gives every people and the fourth estate to voice their grievances and concerns that could make a lasting change,” it added.
The group then called on House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, House Committee on Legislative Franchises Chair Franz Alvarez, and “all the lawmakers in both chambers to act on the franchise renewal application of ABS-CBN so that they could continue their unfinished commitment to the people.”
De La Salle University
In solidarity with ABS-CBN, its employees, and the millions of Filipinos who depend on the broadcast network for news…
Shortly after news of the shut down broke on Tuesday afternoon, De La Salle University (DLSU) took to Facebook to show its support for ABS-CBN by uploading a photo of its main campus lit up in the media giant’s signature colors of red, green and blue.
“In solidarity with ABS-CBN, its employees, and the millions of Filipinos who depend on the broadcast network for news and information, De La Salle University lights up the iconic St. La Salle Hall in the colors of the company to appeal to the National Telecommunications Commission to grant provisional authority for the continued operation of the network,” DLSU’s official Facebook page said.
NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba has stated that they were acting on “the validity of the franchise” and “deemed it proper to issue a CDO,” noting that the NTC was not pressured by Solicitor General Jose Calida, who previously warned the commission against granting ABS-CBN provisional authority.
Cordoba back in March said that the NTC will issue a provisional authority to ABS-CBN allowing it to operate beyond its franchise’s expiration on May 4.
/MUF / JPV
Subscribe to our daily newsletter[forminator_form id="1644364"]
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.