5 May 2020
This is the kind of government we have.
Even as our people battle a deadly pandemic, it carries out an underhanded assault on freedom of the press and of expression through a cease and desist order issued by the National Telecommunications Commission against broadcast network ABS-CBN.
That this dastardly move comes two days after we observed World Press Freedom Day and a day after Jose Calida warned the NTC of graft charges should it allow the network to operate beyond the expiration of its franchise on May 4.
All this stems from President Rodrigo Duterte’s personal vendetta against the network, whose franchise renewal he pledged to block.
No matter that this is a slap on Congress, which has the sovereign power to decide on matters of franchise and which explicitly asked the NTC to allow ABS-CBN to continue operating while it deliberates the bills to renew the network’s franchise.
No matter that the closure of a major media network would deprive our people of a major source of information at a time when information could spell life and death as we battle the pandemic.
It sends a clear message: What Duterte wants, Duterte gets. And it is clear, with this brazen move to shut down ABS-CBN, that he intends to silence the critical media and intimidate everyone else into submission.
But just as the independent press survived and triumphed with the people over the Marcos dictatorship, we are certain that we shall do so again, that this regime that has run roughshod over our laws and disregarded our basic rights and liberties will not succeed.
We call on the community of independent Filipino journalists and on all Filipinos who cherish democracy and liberty to stand together and resist this government’s brazen assault on freedom of the press and of expression.
MABUHAY AND MALAYANG PAMAMAHAYAG!