Vice President Leni Robredo questioned the intentions of the government in shutting down ABS-CBN, stating their free flow of information ‘literally saves lives’ amid the coronavirus pandemic in the country.
Her statement came hours after the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) issued a Cease and Desist Order against the giant network prompting it to stop broadcasting on television and radio, a day after its legislative franchise expired.
“This free flow of information literally saves lives. Closing down ABS-CBN costs lives, on top of unnecessarily burdening the thousands who will lose their jobs,” she said.
Robredo also stressed how the government has been more keen on reopening Philippine offshore gaming operations (POGOs), which have been a target of police raids for illegal activities, instead of ABS-CBN who obviously has more significance and had been providing more assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Ang pangunahing tanong sa pagpapasara ng ABS-CBN: Bakit ito ginagawa ngayon sa panahong humaharap tayo sa matinding krisis? Wala dapat puwang sa panggigipit at pansariling interes sa mga panahon kung kailan dapat nagtutulungan tayo,” she said.
“It’s really surprising that ABS-CBN will be closed while POGOs are allowed to reopen. It’s not hard to determine which of the two has been helping in the response to the crisis we are facing now.”
Earlier on Tuesday, the giant broadcasting corporation signed off as they comply with the NTC order.
The NTC gave the network 10 days from receipt of the order “to respond as to why the frequencies assigned to it should not be recalled.”
“Millions of Filipinos will lose their source of news and entertainment when ABS-CBN is ordered to go off-air on TV and radio tonight (5 May 2020) when people need crucial and timely information as the nation deals with the COVID-19 pandemic,” ABS-CBN said in a statement.
Despite Senate Resolution No. 40, the House of Representatives’ committee on legislative franchises’ letter, the guidance of the Department of Justice, and the sworn statement of NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba, the giant network said the NTC did not grant it a provisional authority to operate while its franchise renewal remains pending in Congress.