Official statement of Malacañang Press Corps on the NTCs CDO against ABS-CBN

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“There is no crueler tyranny than that which is perpetuated under the shield of law and in the name of justice.” – Montesquieu

The Malacañang Press Corps strongly condemns the National Telecommunications Commission’s (NTC) cease and desist order that shut down broadcast company ABS-CBN as a shameless and blatant attack on press freedom.

NTC’s decision came after a threat from Solicitor General Jose Calida that he would file graft charges against NTC officials if they grant a provisional authority to ABS-CBN. This is despite an earlier commitment by NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba to the House Committee on Legislative Franchises that the NTC would grant provisional authority to the broadcast company.

Mr. Calida, lest we forget, is the same person behind a quo warranto petition before the Supreme Court against ABS-CBN filed in February 2020. Mr. Calida’s petition followed several statements from the President that he would block the franchise renewal of ABS-CBN. 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 Philippine media.

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. 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.

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.

We stand in solidarity with ABS-CBN and its 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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