MANILA -- Even when ABS-CBN went off-air for the first time in decades on Tuesday night, the Philippines' biggest media network did not sign off in the hearts of its Filipino viewers and supporters, according to a multi-awarded screenwriter.
"I appreciate and believe ako sa ABS-CBN, dahil kita ko na nung nag-sign off siya, ang lakas ng tiwala niya sa kaniyang manonood. Na maski nag-sign off siya, hindi nag-sign off ang ABS-CBN sa kaniyang manonood," Ricky Lee, a veteran screenwriter, journalist and novelist, told ANC on Thursday.
(I appreciate and believe in ABS-CBN, because when I saw it sign off, it had a big trust in its viewers that even it signed off. Even it went off-air, ABS-CBN did not sign off for the viewers.)
"Tuloy-tuloy pa rin siyang nakakonekta sa kaniyang mga manonood, maski na nag-sign off sila."
(It continues to connect to its viewers, even after it went off air.)
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Telecommunications Commission ordered ABS-CBN on Tuesday to “cease and desist” (CDO) from broadcasting on television and radio, one day after the company’s 25-year operating franchise expired.
Solicitor General Jose Calida on Sunday warned the NTC against issuing a temporary permit to operate for ABS-CBN.
Even though ABS-CBN's shutdown was "disappointing and frustrating," it was also inspiring, said Lee.
"I saw so much support, inspiration sa mga katrabaho, sa mga kaibigan, sa mga hindi kakilala. Ang dami-dami kong nababasa at naririnig na sumusuporta sa ABS-CBN at kumokondena dun sa ginawang pag-shutdown sa kaniya sa ganitong panahon," he said.
(I saw so much support, inspiration from colleagues, friends and strangers. I read and hear about lots of people supporting ABS-CBN and denouncing its shutdown during this crisis.)
"Nakakalakas ng loob."
Lee said the government is hellbent on silencing people and companies who tell and show stories against it, even as the pandemic persists.
"'Yun ang gusto nila eh, tayong mga nagsusulat, gumagawa ng kwento e manatili sa dilim para ang maririnig ng nagbabasa at ng mga nanonood ay 'yung mga gusto nilang iparating na mga kwento, which is usually 'di totoong kwento," he said.
(That's what they want, that we who write, make stories will remain in the dark so that what viewers and audiences hear and watch will be the government's stories, which are usually not true.)
"Gusto nilang nasa dilim tayo."
(They want us in the dark.)
ABS-CBN's online platforms will thrive amid the shutdown since Filipinos, especially the network's supporters, will find other sources of information and entertainment from it, Lee said.
"I think 'yung mga taga-tangkilik ng ABS-CBN pupunta 'yun dun sa iWant, sa ANC at sa mga iba't iba pang platforms ng ABS-CBN," he said.
(I think supporters of ABS-CBN will go to iWant, ANC and other platforms of ABS-CBN.)
iWant, ABS-CBN's video streaming service and app, delivers entertainment content to internet users. ANC, or the ABS-CBN News Channel, continues to broadcast as the NTC order does not cover cable news channels.
Amid the government's actions against media entities who speak against it, Lee said this is the right time for writers and tell stories.
"Mas mahalaga ang papel ng kwento sa panahong ito."
(Stories are more important in this time.)
ABS-CBN has asked the Supreme Court for a temporary restraining order to stop the implementation of the CDO.
Media entities and rights groups have slammed the government for its action against ABS-CBN, calling it "suppression of freedom" and a prelude to dictatorship in the Philippines.
Several senators and lawmakers, including pro-administration members of both houses of Congress, have called on the NTC to rescind its order against the network.