May 5, 2020

On the shutdown of ABS-CBN

MANILA, Philippines: ABS-CBN, one of the country’s oldest and most influential networks, went off air today under orders of the National Telecommunications Commission, which issued a cease and desist order citing the expiration of its congressional franchise.

President Rodrigo Duterte has regularly attacked the network for its critical news coverage, and has threatened to halt its operations after its congressional franchise expired, in what is clearly an attack on press freedom.

In response, Chuck Baclagon of Pilipinas issued the following statement:

The media is an important pillar of democracy, playing a vital role in raising the level and quality of public debate. The cease and desist order against ABS-CBN clearly shows the regime’s complete disregard for democratic institutions. Tyranny thrives in oppression and enforced silence.

The order comes at the worst possible time, as the COVID-19 pandemic raises the need for crucial and timely information. Moreover, it puts the network’s over 11,000 workers in dire straits.

We stand in solidarity with the workers of ABS-CBN. We stand in solidarity with everyone who continues to live out the values of democracy and continues to work with the most vulnerable groups and communities despite threats of intimidation and violence. Amidst this pandemic, worsened by the political climate, we remain steadfast in our commitment to serve the people and our planet, to work for climate justice, to strive to reflect our fundamental respect for democratic principles, and to seek solutions that promote global social equity.