Duterte to face 'time of reckoning' for ABS-CBN shutdown, journo says

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 05 2021 09:42 AM | Updated as of May 05 2021 09:55 AM

President Rodrigo Duterte talks to the people after holding a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members at the Malacañang Golf (Malago) Clubhouse in Malacañang Park, Manila on May 3, 2021. King Rodriguez, Presidential Photo

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte will face a "time of reckoning" in the 2022 elections for ordering the shutdown of ABS-CBN, an award-winning veteran journalist said Wednesday.

"I think the President's people especially Harry Roque did not succeed in convincing the public that President Duterte has nothing to do with the shutdown because everyone in government from the NTC (National Telecommunications Commission) and Congress, which is controlled by the President because of the tremendous support from his allies in Congress, would show that everything was done because of Duterte's wishes," Manny Mogato told ANC.

"I think there will be a time of reckoning for his action maybe in 1 year. During elections," the Pulitzer-prize winning reporter added.

For Mogato, the shutdown of the country's former leading media and entertainment company has "changed the way of life" of Filipinos.

"The impact is more on the people who are deprived of information, especially news coming from a legitimate and reputable organization," he said.

The broadcaster's exit from free television also created a chilling effect on the rest of the industry, ABS-CBN News reporter Mike Navallo said.

"It can't take away the fact that taking out the largest media organization in the Philippines already creates a chilling effect to the rest of the media in the Philippines," he said. 

"Imagine, the biggest network [and] the President can shut it down or his supporters in Congress. Well, that says a lot. What will now be the position of those who are not as well known, who are not as big as ABS-CBN."

The country's telecoms body shut down ABS-CBN's free TV and radio operations on May 5, 2020, a day after its franchise was left to expire despite a long-pending renewal application at the House of Representatives.

A month later, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) served 2 cease-and-desist orders against ABS-CBN's digital broadcast in Metro Manila and its sister company Sky Cable's direct broadcast satellite service nationwide.

On July 10, 2020, the Committee on Legislative Franchises denied the network's franchise bid after conducting 13 hearings, which tackled various issues such as alleged labor and tax violations and foreign ownership in mass media.

ABS-CBN was first shut down in 1972 when dictator Ferdinand Marcos imposed martial law. 

Some 48 years later, the network was forced off the air under the Duterte administration, which local and international groups condemned as a brazen attack on press freedom.

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