NUJP – Albay Statement on the Closure of ABS-CBN Legazpi Regional Network

Today, August 28, 2020 is the last day of ABS-CBN Legazpi Regional Network operation after 23 years.

The closure of ABS-CBN in Legazpi laid off 30 employees in Legazpi City alone.

This is also the time that our colleagues in ABS-CBN news team will totally put down their microphones and cameras following the closure.

The news team of ABS-CBN has been our partner in providing quick and massive information and services to the public through news specifically in times of natural calamities and man-made disasters.

Bicol region as laboratory of disasters or one-stop-shop of natural calamities needs ABS-CBN as the sole station with Bicol-produced programs with wide range of audience as its signal penetrates the remotest areas in the countryside.

The non-renewal of the ABS CBN franchise by the House of Representatives that resulted to NTC’s order to shut down the station is very critical specifically in Bicol, the most disaster prone region in the country as the public vital source of information has been cut off under the Duterte administration.

The cease and desist operation of ABS-CBN in the country specifically in Bicol region is even critical considering the prevailing Coronavirus pandemic.

The Philippines largest media network went off the air after a long battle to renew its franchise.

ABS-CBN shut down after the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) issued a cease and desist order against it.

We, the National Union Journalists of the Philippines-Albay chapter, strongly condemn the National Telecommunications Commission’s (NTC) cease and desist order that clampdown the broadcast operation of ABS-CBN in the middle of Coronavirus pandemic.

The government’s move through the NTC is a shameful act and a deliberate blow against the freedom of the press and the flow of information.

Clamping down ABS-CBN in the pinnacle of health crisis is like cutting off the umbilical cord, putting the lives of many Filipinos, specifically in the countryside, on the brink of death.

ABS-CBN is a conduit that provides and educates the public of correct and scientific facts – based delivery of news and information to safeguard the people from the unprecedented impact of COVID-19 pandemic as the network went off – the – air on May 5, 2020, at 7:52 p.m., two days after the commemoration of “World Press Freedom Day” due to Duterte’s administration attack against fearless and independent news organization in the Philippines.

This is tantamount to suppression and violation of the 1987 Philippine constitution, Bill of Rights, Article 111, Section 7 stating “the right of the people to information on matters of public concern shall be recognized…”, specifically that the nation is on the brink of uncertainties with global health emergency due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Sadly, the closure of ABS-CBN was orchestrated by Solicitor General Jose Calida, who served as campaign manager of President Rodrigo R. Duterte in 2016 Presidential elections.

The closure of ABS-CBN is completely political in nature and tainted with vested interest discrediting democracy.

Calida, the country’s chief attorney whose pivotal role is to represent the government, its agencies, instrumentalities, officials and agent in any litigation, proceeding or investigation before the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals thus provides legal advice to executive and represents the relevant court proceedings specifically in constitutional matters or, upon the order of the President, should represent the country in all international jurisprudence, maneuvered the closure of ABS-CBN for personal vendetta.

Calida who is facing graft charges for allegedly owning security agencies with contracts with government offices pressured the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to issue a cease and desist order against ABS-CBN, superseding Congress and so as abandoning its previous commitment on March 10 hearing that the law-making branch will grant provisional authority to ABS-CBN to continue to operate while the franchise application is being heard in the House of Representatives.

The issue at hand is serious as it deals with Press Freedom which will affect the fourth estate in general aside from displacement of over 11,000 employees after the NTC clampdown the operation of ABS-CBN.

Without mainstream journalists and ABS-CBN, we will not succeed in flattening the curve in the fight of Coronavirus pandemic thus combat the disinfodemic in the era of fake news and misinformation.

Mainstream media provides facts and accountable for reporting through truth – telling without fear or favor as “check and balance” to the government.

We stand in solidarity with ABS-CBN and the 11,000 employees left jobless due to the whims and caprices of men and power within the corridors of Malacanang.

August 28, 2020.

Rhaydz B. Barcia
Chairman
NUJP Albay chapter

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