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Palace reporters to NTC: Honor vow to issue ABS-CBN provisional permit

/ 07:18 PM May 06, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Journalists covering Malacañang on Wednesday asked the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to honor its commitment and issue a provisional permit to embattled television giant ABS-CBN to allow it to resume operations.

ABS-CBN went off the air in compliance with the cease and desist order of the NTC pending congressional approval of its franchise renewal.

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In a statement, the Malacañang Press Corps (MPC) strongly condemned as a “shameless and blatant attack on press freedom” the NTC’s cease and desist order against ABS-CBN, which forced the country’s largest television network off the airwaves on Tuesday evening.

“We demand that the NTC honor its commitment to Congress to issue a provisional authority to ABS-CBN and to leave the issue of the franchise renewal to Congress,” the MPC said.

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The group noted that the NTC’s order came after Solicitor General Jose Calida threatened to file graft charges against NTC officials if they honor Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba’s commitment to the House Committee on Legislative Franchises that the NTC would grant provisional authority to the broadcast company.

ABS-CBN’s legislative franchise expired on May 4. Prior to this, Calida filed a quo warranto petition before the Supreme Court against ABS-CBN over the company’s alleged “highly abusive practices.”

“Mr. Calida’s petition followed several statements from the President that he would block the franchise renewal of ABS-CBN,” the MPC pointed out.

The group likewise called out Congress after it “sat and dilly-dallied” on ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal bid for years.

“Since 2014, Congress sat and dilly-dallied on ABS-CBN’s application to renew its franchise until it was too late on May 5, 2020 – one of the darkest moments in the history of the Philippine media,” the MPC said.

“The confluence of events shows us that this is an orchestrated attack in part against ABS-CBN, and on the whole, an attack against press freedom by agents of the government who are only too willing to please their master. They have done it before. They are doing it again,” it added.

The group then appealed to the NTC to let Congress decide on the fate of the ABS-CBN.

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“We urge the members of Congress to act with dispatch on the application of ABS-CBN. Malacañang recently claimed the President could not intervene with the NTC decision, although this view is not shared by the Department of Justice.  Given the differences in views within the executive branch, the resolution of this issue now lies in the hands of Congress. We hope that the members of Congress will vote with their conscience and principles.”

The MPC likewise expressed support to the more than 11,000 workers, “whose livelihoods are now at risk because of the NTC’s unreasonable and imprudent action.”

“We call on our colleagues in the media profession to unite in the face of this attack. We know this for what it is. Whether done in the dark days of Martial Law or under the broad sunlight of a supposed democracy, attacks against press freedom will only succeed when we are divided.”

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TAGS: ABS-CBN, Congress, free speech, Jose Calida, Malacañang Press Corps, NTC, press freedom
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