MANILA (UPDATE) - A veteran journalist and press advocate voiced disappointment Wednesday with ABS-CBN Corp’s offer for government to use its transmission facilities even after being denied a franchise by Congress and attacked again by President Rodrigo Duterte.
Vergel Santos, former member of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility board of trustees, said ABS-CBN's offer was "very disappointing" and that the network had a "poor appreciation of meekness as a virtue."
"Does ABS-CBN really think that given the nature of this government, those facilities would be used for proper education and not indoctrination or brainwashing? Does ABS-CBN want to be in the end accused of complicity in this regime?" he told ANC.
"No, this is not magnanimity, this is terror. ABS-CBN has been cowed into that kind of meekness. From the beginning, ABS-CBN has been simply too meek going into that hearing. I do not understand how it could stand all the savaging it got from Congress without putting in some bold word or protest. I can’t understand. I find it even more incredible now that ABS-CBN is even helping this government by allowing it to run its own facilities ostensibly for education," Santos added. "The more you’re meek, the more you’re trampled upon."
After the State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday where Duterte said the returned frequencies previously assigned to ABS-CBN should be used by government for distance education, the network said it was offering its transmission facilities to help government air educational programs in the coming school year for distance learning.
"While this is not expected to have any business impact to the company, we are hopeful that our network can help in the education of our students nationwide," the company said.
Malacañang, meantime, welcomed ABS-CBN's offer.
"Kung gobyerno po ang gagamit, salamat po at baka naman pupuwedeng gamitin iyong transmission at iyong mga materyales ng ABS-CBN," Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said on Tuesday.
(If government will use it, thank you. We hope to use the transmission and materials of ABS-CBN.)
Santos said the network should "make it more difficult for government" to take its facilities and "protest and resist."
"Let them take things instead of simply offering them on a silver platter with such acquiescence and blessing," he said.
Santos said the House's denial of ABS-CBN's franchise bid goes beyond simply granting franchises.
"If you would listen to the President's SONA, everything goes beyond franchise, of other communication companies, going beyond simply denying or taking away franchises from people but actually nationalization and expropriation," he said.
Santos was referring to the President’s threat in the SONA to shut or expropriate telecoms companies PLDT-Smart and Globe if services won't improve by December.
"This is a serious affair. Having a President like Duterte is a serious affair. This is a President who has worked for himself instead of for us. There is no room for jokes here," he said.
news.abs-cbn.com is the official news website of ABS-CBN Corp.