We decry any claims and assertions associating President Duterte with the National Telecommunications Commission’s independent and impartial decision to impose a cease and desist order against ABS-CBN Corporation.
Such claims are bereft of truth and just a rehash of an old malicious imputation to bedevil the President and his administration.
One should understand, first and foremost, the Philippines’ legislative processes and rule of law before connecting any precedents as being orchestrated by the President.
Let us be reminded that President Duterte has accepted the apology of ABS-CBN Corporation and this thereby undermines any assumption that the President was behind NTC’s decision.
No one is above the law.
ABS-CBN’s shutdown was brought about by the expiration of its 25-year legislative franchise last 4 May 2020. The mandate of a broadcast franchise issuance and renewal is within the authority of the Congress, and not solely of the President, who only signs the law to be executory. It is within the purview of the Constitution that NTC, as a regulatory body, disallows the continued operation of any broadcast network with an expired franchise.
The National Telecommunications Commission is bounded by law to decide on and execute any policies and programs that are in accordance to what our Constitution dictates, which is the case in this instance.
Intervening on such an independent, regulatory, and quasi-judicial undertaking would be in violation of the law, or a Constitutional infringement.
Decision regarding the legislative franchise of ABS-CBN falls within the purview and wisdom of Congress and ABS-CBN has the right to pursue any and exhaust all legal remedies it deems necessary to resolve the matter.
It is, therefore, totally unfair and objectionable for some parties and some international media to insist that what happened to the network is due to “having incurred the ire” of the President. This assertion is remarkably erroneous, lacks objectivity and scant in factual basis. Simply, a false narrative.
This is not an issue of press freedom but an issue regarding legislative franchise. Democracy, and the free press and free speech that come with it, is very much alive in the country and effectively protected.
With the bill on ABS-CBN Corporation’s legislative franchise still pending in Congress at present, we would like to express our gratitude for the company’s service to the Filipino nation, especially at this time of the COVID-19 pandemic. The hard work and passion of everyone from the said media organization is truly commendable.