ABS-CBN shutdown comes at worst possible time amid pandemic, says rights watchdog

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 05 2020 08:01 PM

The ABS-CBN main building in Quezon City is draped in the network’s colors on February 28, 2020. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA—Human Rights Watch on Tuesday slammed the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) order for ABS-CBN to halt its broadcast operations following the expiration of its franchise.

“Human Rights Watch views this turn of events with deep concern, coming as it did on the heels of efforts by the Duterte administration to intimidate and muzzle the Philippine press,” HRW deputy Asia director Phil Robertson said in a statement.

“This also comes at the worst possible time, when the Covid19 pandemic is ravaging countries like the Philippines and when accurate and truthful information is needed crucially.”

HRW urged the NTC to rescind the cease and desist order and “the solicitor general should stop acting like Duterte’s attack dog.”

It also called on Congress to assert its authority over broadcast franchises.

“The Filipino people should reject this despotic move to harass and silence a media organization known not only for its reach but also for its competence and dedication to deliver the news,” Robertson said.

Solicitor General Jose Calida earlier sought the high court to invalidate franchises of ABS-CBN Corp. and ABS-CBN Convergence citing alleged abuses, including supposed violations of restrictions on foreign ownership.

The Lopez-led network, which reaches millions of Filipinos through its television, radio and online platforms, said it had not broken the law in its 65-year service.

“We did not violate the law. This case appears to be an attempt to deprive Filipinos of the services of ABS-CBN,” the company said in a statement.

ABS-CBN and its subsidiaries have more than 11,000 employees. 

 News.abs-cbn.com is the official news website of ABS-CBN Corp.