NTC’s cease and desist order against ABS-CBN is not only an attack on press freedom but an act of hostility against its 11,000 employees. Just as President Duterte’s underlings attempted to harass and deport a Taiwan-based OFW for merely voicing out her legitimate criticisms, the regime is now launching a much larger scale of assault against free speech and the people’s right to information. It wants fuller control over the flow of information to pervert the everyday accounts of the Filipino public.
Migrante International stands in solidarity with the thousands of ABS-CBN employees whose families will now have to face grimmer days ahead due to the loss of their livelihood and employment. Duterte’s wranglings against ABS-CBN attest to his personal vendetta against the company. How can this regime even do such monstrosity to the thousands of families right at this terrible period of crisis? The country is now lying flat on its back but the Duterte regime would rather see to it that thousands upon thousands are added to the vast number of Filipinos gripped by hunger and deprivation.
We find it woeful for this to occur just days after International Workers’ Day and World Press Freedom Day. While we were still left baffled by ABS-CBN’s closure, we were struck anew by the horrible news of a media worker shot dead in Dumaguete City. Migrante International is one with the media community in demanding justice for Rex Cornelio of 93.7 FM Dumaguete.
In many provinces outside of Metro Manila, ABS-CBN is the only TV station available on air. Tens of millions are now without access to important news and information at a time when COVID-19 is ravaging the country. In places where communication signals are too weak, watching ABS-CBN’s TV programs could be the only way for them to keep track of the general situation in places, whether it be in the Philippines or abroad, where their loved ones live.
President Duterte is just too spooked by the mass awakening and growing outrage of the Filipino people against the injustices being committed by his regime. For OFWs and their families, the ABS-CBN shutdown is Duterte’s way of clamping down on media entities exposing his extortionate agenda against OFWs as in the mandatory Philhealth exaction and premium rate hike. The closure of the Philippines’ largest network comes at a time when the Duterte regime is repelling enormous criticisms due to the Philhealth controversy.
Just as how crony capitalism got ahead during the Marcos years, POGO operations and Dennis Uy’s expansion into entertainment and media business are expected to reach their apex at the back of a hard-pressed media community. Even without an official declaration, it is pretty evident that Martial Law is currently underway, and Duterte is using the same Marcosian tactics to suppress civil liberties in favour of his despotic rule. Migrante International calls on all Filipinos to fight for their right to information and defend the media community from Duterte’s Fascist attacks.