The Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines condemns the National Telecommunications Commission’s order to shut down the television and radio stations of ABS-CBN Corp., the country’s largest broadcaster.
The order threatens press freedom at a time when the public needs an unfettered press the most.
As the Philippines reels from the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, ABS-CBN’s critical eye is needed now more than ever to help inform the public.
ABS-CBN’s indefatigable journalists have fully embraced their role to provide the public with vital information on the pandemic despite risks to their health and safety.
The move is clearly a case of political harassment against a pillar of Philippine democracy that employs thousands of Filipinos whose livelihoods are now at risk with the order.
The order runs counter to weeks of seeming assurance from lawmakers and Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra that a provisional license approved either by the NTC or by Congress would allow ABS-CBN to air.
It follows a warning, on World Press Freedom Day no less, by the government’s top lawyer, Jose Calida, of graft charges should the NTC go through with issuing a temporary broadcast permit.
We urge Congress to independently act on pending measures seeking to renew ABS-CBN’s franchise. Our lawmakers must tackle these measures as soon as possible, and uphold the freedom of the press that the 1987 Constitution guarantees.
FOCAP was founded in 1974 to safeguard press freedom.
We stand with ABS-CBN. We stand with press freedom.