Statement of Support for ABS-CBN
The Editor's Desk
If we are to push for a just and humane society, freedom of the press must be upheld, because a free press is the enabler of a just and humane society that holds into account the powers-that-be.
When the truth cannot come out because the press is cowed, captured, or co-opted, the rule of law is undermined. When the government prevents the media to hold it accountable, it kills the very essence of democracy on which it is founded.
We, the members of the Pasig Review, express our support for ABS-CBN for the grant of a legislative franchise, which Congress has already killed. We are convinced now more than ever that it is in the best interests of the public that more channels of information are allowed, especially in a public health emergency where greater access to information is a must. We hoped that the franchise would be renewed while provisions are laid down to enable ABS-CBN to correct what needs to be corrected and continue best practices that have made it the biggest Filipino media company in the service of the Filipino.
The grant of the franchise to ABS-CBN would have been consistent with the State’s obligation under Article XVI, Sec. 10 of the 1987 Constitution to “provide the policy environment for … the balanced flow of information into, out of, and across the country, in accordance with a policy that respects the freedom of speech and of the press.” It would also be consistent with the guarantee of a free press under Article III, sec. 4 of the 1987 Constitution.
With the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) expressing that ABS-CBN has not made any major violations, that if there were can be subject to penalties but not, in the best judgment, to the point of closure. Sadly, the same was done with the facts laid down by other concerned agencies as 70 Congressmen chose to just consider their highly-politicized opinion instead of the greater good and what is right.
What are gravely condemnable are the disregard of the fundamental rules of fair play and NTC’ s own rules that require the respondent to be heard before any judgment is arrived at. Section 4, Rule 10 of the NTC’ s Rules of Practice required that ABS-CBN be required to show cause. The Cease and Desist Order directing the shutdown on May 5, 2020 was a decision made because of the exerted influence of the Solicitor General who pressured the NTC into issuing such a directive that in itself shows that this administration is not in anyway going to play it fair at any point should anyone dare to contradict its stance and direction.
And despite repeated denials from Malacanang and the Solicitor General, pronouncements coming from their lackeys show that they had a hand in this and that everything was just a pretentious show of due process when this was already a done deal. This violates fundamental fair play and administrative due process.
While ABS-CBN may have lost the battle, we continue to support our comrades in the battlefield of Journalism, with that fervent hope that we will win the war and hoist the freedom of the Press, unabashed, unsullied, and unbowed.
Further, we know that this is not game over yet as what some quarters would like to think. This issue is not just about ABS-CBN and the 11 thousand employees who are left without jobs at a time when there is a pandemic and many companies have closed because the government has not done enough to mitigate the effects of the lock downs necessitated by the unabated spread of the COVID-19 virus.
We express our indignation at this brazen act to curtail press freedom, which has now become an issue as it has become clear that all these happened because of one man's vengeful tendencies no matter how utterly irrational and unpresidential his bases are. We condemn in the highest possible way and in the most extreme terms this injustice inflicted upon ABS-CBN, its employees, and the Press and the wound it has created at a time when we should have been healing as one.
What makes it so appalling is the unschooled members of the House of Representatives who obviously do not know anything about Journalism attempted to teach journalists how to do their profession showing their gross ignorance of the field of truthful writing by interchanging it with public relations in their sorry attempt to check the fourth estate that has made the comfortable, uncomfortable by insisting in factual reporting albeit it would mean, as n the case of ABS-CBN, the non-renewal of their franchise.
Their gross ignorance of the basic tenets of Journalism begs the question that if they fail to understand a basic principle as this, what else can they deliberately refuse to understand?
We stand as one with ABS-CBN, its employees, and every Filipino who understands and embraces why Journalism must be unfettered and free knowing that it is always darkest before dawn.