ABS-CBN news chief lambasts NTC’s order, calls it ‘assault on democracy’
MANILA, Philippines—ABS-CBN News Chief Ging Reyes is calling NTC’s cease-and-desist order to shut down the media giant as a “prior restraint” for it deprives the media network the freedom to provide news and information to citizens.
“Maraming nagsasabi na hindi lamang naman ABS-CBN ang nagbibigay ng impormasyon, at bakit daw nation sinasabi na ito ay pagkitil sa malayang pamamahayag. Napakahirap ipaunawa ito sa mga nagbibingi-bingihan at sa mga nagbubulag-bulagan,” Reyes said during an online Black Friday protest held by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP).
“This was an assault on democracy, ito ay isang bayolente, marahas na aksyon para pigilan ang
malayang pamamahayag (this is a violent and harsh way to curtail press freedom),” the news chief added.
She emphasized that despite ABS-CBN still being able to provide news online, many of their viewers have no access to the internet and cannot afford to get data for their phones, and are being deprived as well of the freedom to consume news from a source of their choosing.
The news chief added that fellow Filipinos from faraway provinces, whose TV antennas can only reach ABS-CBN’s channel, are now also left with no news source following the move.
“We are in a democracy, and part of that is providing freedom of choice to our news consumers and to our news audience. And not [just] news audience, but anyone who cares to watch a teleserye, or watch news, or listen to a commentary program,” Reyes noted.
“Bahagi ng demokrasya ay pagbibigay ng iba’t ibang pagpipilian sa ating mga kababayan. Kaya nang sabihan tayo, nung tayo’y utusan na itigil ito, itigil ang DZMM, ang MOR at ang Channel 2, at ang iba ibang pang mga istasyon ng radyo at telebisyon sa buong bansa, ang ginawa nila ay binawi nila ‘yun sa milyon-milyong manonood,” she added.
(Part of democracy is being able to provide choices to our countrymen. So when they told us to stop this, to stop DZMM, MOR and Channel 2, as well as all our other radio and TV stations across the country, what they did is take away that freedom from millions of our viewers.)
Reyes is one of the many media practitioners who have condemned NTC’s move, which is said to have breached press freedom and freedom of expression.
The NUJP earlier condemned the move and slammed the Duterte administration for carrying our an “underhanded assault” on press freedom amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Other groups of journalists, such as the Malacañang Press Corps, PNP Press Corps, Defense Press Corps, as well as Justice and Court reporters, have likewise condemned the order and called it an attack against the freedom of the press and showed their support for ABS-CBN.
In the same online protest event, Kilusang Mayo Uno Chairman Elmer Labog also stressed that the issue is not just the simple closure of ABS-CBN, but because of its breaches on democracy and freedom of expression.
“Ito po ay hindi isang simpleng pagpapasara ng institusyon, ito po ay arbitraryong pag-agaw sa ating kalayaang makapagsalita, kalayaan ng mga pahayagan, ang ating kalayaan sa ekspresyon, at ang ating kalayaan na magkaroon ng impormasyon ang lahat ng mamamayang Pilipino,” Labog said.
(This is not just the simple shutting down of an institution, this is an arbitrary move to take away our right to free speech, freedom of the press, our freedom of expression, and our freedom to provide information to our fellow Filipinos.)
‘NTC’s cowardly decision’
The Nagkaisa Labor Coalition chairman, Atty. Sonny Matula, echoed the same sentiments and underscored how the NTC is a “coward” for giving in to Solicitor General Jose Calida’s “threats” against its commissioners.
“Everyone is called to answer our call of duty in history; the NTC commissioners missed their appointment with history. Natakot sila kay Solicitor General Calida na nagbanta sa isang sulat na sasampahan ng kaso kung di nila ipapasara ang ABS-CBN,” Matula said during the online protest.
(They feared Solicitor General Calida’s threats that he will file a case against them if they do not order the shut down of ABS-CBN.)
“Sa kanilang paglagda sa closure order, nakalimutan at iniwan nila nang higit na 11,000 na mga manggagawa na nawalan ng trabaho, na dapat protektahan ng gobyerno. Ang proteksyon sa trabaho ay pambansang interes. Ito ay pinag-uutos ng Saligang Batas na dapat gawin ng gobyerno. The threat of Calida and the cowardly decision of NTC will be remembered in history by generations and generations to come,” he added.
(For filing the closure order, they forgot and left more than 11,000 workers to lose their jobs, people the government was supposed to protect. The security of tenure is of national interest. This is mandated by the Constitution and should be enforced by the government.)
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