By Czarina Nicole Ong Ki
The shutdown of TV network ABS-CBN means that the Filipino people are losing another “voice” and it will unfortunately trigger waves of effects as the country deals with the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said in a statement.
CHR Spokesperson Atty. Jacqueline Ann de Guia said they are “deeply concerned” with the cease and desist order issued by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to ABS-CBN since it negatively affects free media and puts a hamper on freedom of expression.
“At this point, we cannot stress enough how access to credible information is crucial in addressing the spread of COVID-19,” she said. “With the station off the air, we lose another voice that people rely on for critical information on how to protect themselves and their loved ones from the ill-effects of the virus.”
Not only are the Filipino people losing a voice, but many are also at risk of losing their jobs because of the closure. The CHR said that the NTC is aggravating the struggle for a source of income already being faced by countless Filipinos given the implementation of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).
“It is ironic that days after we commemorated Labour Day on May 1, workers of ABS-CBN now face the uncertainty of having no means to support themselves, their families, and even fellow Filipinos in this dire time,” said de Guia.
World Press Freedom Day, which was observed on May 3, reminds people that the press guards the truth. The information delivered by the media on a daily basis allows people to make critical decisions on their lives and enables them to demand good service – especially from the government.
The CHR stressed that any alleged violations should be dealt with in accordance with the law, and any protection granted by law should likewise apply to ABS-CBN.
“We echo our call that political whims should not dictate the fate of ABS-CBN, or any media network, that continues to be an important facet of our democracy,” said de Guia.