NTC order on ABS-CBN comes at the worst of times
MEDIA practitioners, together with first responders among whom are our besieged health workers, have held the line against the further spread of the pandemic in our country.
The National Telecommunications Commission’s (NTC) “cease and desist” order to ABS-CBN to abruptly shut down its operations comes at the worst of times.
It comes at a time when we are trying to contain a contagion that has brought our nation down on its knees. Never before did our country need to unify all our citizens where communication is crucial, and unimpeded independent media is vital.
The ABS-CBN network, with the widest reach in the country, not only has the potential but in fact has been helping to inform and mobilize our people to put up our community defenses against the deadly coronavirus.
Our people felt assured by the position of our legislators that the reasonable solution is a provisional permit while the renewal of the franchise was being considered by Congress, with its sole power to make that decision.
The NTC seemed agreeable to it, with the favorable opinion of Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra. The turn of events otherwise, through the initiative of Solicitor General Jose Calida, is a disservice to our people who are already struggling to survive on a day-to-day basis and look to responsible media to inform their decisions and actions in that regard.
Moreover, the NTC action in the face of the inactivity of Congress runs contrary to the mandate or command in the Constitution that says: “The State SHALL provide the policy environment” for “communication structures suitable to the NEEDS of the nation and the BALANCED FLOW of information…across the country” (Section 10, Article XVI: General Provisions of the 1987 Philippine Constitution).
We support ABS-CBN’s right to a free and fair process. We thank its frontliners for their invaluable work to motivate our people to focus on the one undertaking that must bring us together at this time: to defeat the pandemic and provide a better future particularly to those who are most vulnerable among our people.
We call on the courage our people have shown in the past against repressive rule to express themselves again for the common good.
Ed Garcia, Florangel Rosario Braid, Christian S. Monsod, Felicitas Arroyo—all framers of the 1987 Constitution
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