Bayan Muna, govt anti-communist task force clash over ABS-CBN shutdown
MANILA, Philippines — Bayan Muna and the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) on Sunday traded barbs over the ABS-CBN shutdown issue.
Bayan Muna Rep. Ferdinand Gaite took a swipe at the task force for dipping its hands on the media giant’s woes, noting that NTF-ELCAC’s statement “reveals who really is behind the shutdown.”
“As we have been saying, the buck stops at the Palace,” Gaite said in a statement.
‘False social media posts’
Bayan Muna issued the statement after the task force, in its official Facebook page, posted on Saturday some “key points” on the shutdown of the country’s largest television network, which the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) had shut down pending congressional approval of its franchise renewal.
In the now-deleted post, the NTF-ELCAC alleged that ABS-CBN’s “request for franchise renewal was disapproved” because of legal issues raised against it.
The post was shared by the official accounts of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) and the Philippine Information Agency-National Capital Region.
However, Malacañang’s communication’s team disowned the social media posts against ABS-CBN, with Communications Secretary Martin Andanar saying the erroneous post was posted without “the usual vetting process” of the office.
“That being said, the posted content is not in any way an official statement or an opinion of the PCOO,” Andanar said.
PCOO has already deleted the shared post.
According to Gaite, the points raised by the task force have already been answered during the Senate hearing where government officials cleared the network over issues of taxes and pay-per-view services, amongst others.
He also mentioned that NTF-ECLAC has been “spewing lies to malign and harass government critics” since its inception.
‘Communist fronts’ using ABS-CBN issue
In a statement, the task force justified its social media claims and said progressive groups such as Bayan Muna, Amnesty International Philippines, Karapatan, and IBON—which it has been calling as “legal fronts” of the communist group— are using the ABS-CBN issue against the government.
“The CPP NPA NDF, through its above and below ground organizations, will stop at nothing and will use everything to sow chaos and agitate and divide the Filipino people against its government to reach its one and only end goal: overthrow of the government and then to replace it with their obsolete, godless, vicious ideology: communism–at a time in our world’s history when this ideology has edged its way to near-extinction,” it said.
While it said that the issue should be addressed by Congress the NTC, the task force insisted that it will “not stand idly by and do nothing as these communist terrorist front organizations feast on the issue by harping on their twisted and false narratives and concocted lies to deceive the people.”
“This is where NTF-ELCAC comes in- to debunk these vicious anti-government propaganda in order to protect public interest,” it added.
ABS-CBN grateful for public support
Since the NTC handed a cease-and-desist order against ABS-CBN, netizens, media practitioners, lawmakers, and groups have flooded social media with messages of solidarity.
In a statement Sunday, the media giant thanked the public for the overwhelming support.
“This is a challenging time for the network. But we have found strength and inspiration in the many acts of kindness and support shown to us by the public,” ABS-CBN said.
“Thank you for letting us know that we matter to you. In return, we reiterate our commitment to continue to be in your service,” it added.
The broadcast giant has asked the Supreme Court to set aside the closure order issued by the NTC and issue a permanent injunction against its implementation.
The High Court will raffle off next week ABS-CBN’s petition against the NTC’s cease-and-desist order.
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