Statement on the shutdown of ABS-CBN
Two days ago on World Press Freedom Day, journalists around the world were given a nod of recognition as they continued to uphold the ideals of press freedom and the need to inform the public amid a global pandemic and a political climate increasingly becoming hostile to a free press.
Now, ABS CBN, an institution in Philippine media will be forced to shut down tonight due to the cease and desist order issued by the NTC. It is ironic that the order came at the heels of the stern warning from Solicitor General Jose Calida, who claims to be acting independently from the Office of the President, despite the outstanding Senate and House resolution and the opinion of the Department of Justice that ABS CBN should continue to operate.
Authoritarian Rule and Freedom of the Press
The shutdown of ABS CBN cannot be distanced with Duterte’s personal stake in the matter. He has already admitted as much, regardless of Calida’s posturing to the contrary.
What is even more alarming is how the Duterte government is putting its veritable authoritarian foot on the necks of media establishments, both big and small in a bid to make them toe whatever line may emanate from the Palace.
Surely, a press that is being threatened and browbeaten into submission cannot be considered free – expediency and political compromise will hold sway rather than journalist ethics and truthful journalism.
Fighting the “Infodemic”
Kilusan para sa Pambansang Demokrasya (KILUSAN) believes that useful, truthful, and timely information is vital in a public health emergency as the ongoing COVID 19 pandemic.
The World Health Organization has described – as a “second disease” accompanying the COVID-19 pandemic – an “infodemic”, which is “an overabundance of information – some accurate and some not – that makes it hard for people to find trustworthy sources and reliable guidance when they need it”.
In the midst of the pandemic, Filipinos have a right to scientific and truthful information and the act of shutting down a reputable source of such, especially a network that has borne witness to the lives and struggles of the Filipino people for decades is unacceptable and uncalled for.
We are calling for swift and appropriate action by Congress to exercising its sole authority to grant franchises to media outfits like ABS CBN, failure to do so will only confirm that the institution has relegated itself to a role of a rubber stamp of the executive branch and choosing blind compliance rather than an independent action to exercise its mandate.
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