By Minka Klaudia Tiangco
The University of Santo Tomas (UST) on Wednesday expressed support for news and entertainment conglomerate ABS-CBN after it went off-air in compliance with the National Telecommunications Commission’s (NTC) cease and desist order.
“The Pontifical and Royal University of Santo Tomas laments the order to stop ABS-CBN from continuing its broadcast operations, as it is a clear disservice to the Filipino people, in time of the pandemic, when information, delivered fast and wide, is key to saving lives,” it said in an official statement.
UST said that the broadcasting network has not only been a “constant companion” for all Filipinos, it has also “significantly contributed to the improvement” of their lives.
Members of the UST journalism faculty criticized the national government for leading the public to believe that ABS-CBN will be allowed to operate beyond the expiration of its license on Monday, May 4.
“Duterte has declared war on the free press and this is his Pearl Harbor attack,” they said in a statement issued Tuesday night.
“Now that ABS-CBN is out of the airwaves, and for the second time since martial law, there is no more denying that the Duterte regime will stop at nothing—even amid a national emergency and a crippling lockdown—to crush dissent and stifle a free and independent media. Shutting down media is the work of dictators,” it added.
The journalism educators called on lawmakers from the House of Representatives to “stop foot-dragging” and approve a new franchise for the broadcasting giant.
Members of the UST communication arts faculty also urged the Supreme Court and Congress to overturn the “vindictive” order against ABS-CBN as they declared their solidarity with the network.
“We also offer a warm and reassuring embrace to our competent, compassionate, and committed alumni and colleagues in ABS-CBN, and our hearts stand with 11,000 employees who have lost their means of living in the midst of this pandemic,” they said in a statement.
“A great watchdog has gone to sleep for the moment, but it does not mean that we will all follow this playbook. We shall remain steadfast against this emerging storyline of tyranny and oppression,” they added.
The NTC’s order came a day after the network’s operating franchise expired.
ABS-CBN’s operations have been stopped twice in Philippine history. The first was in September 1972 when late dictator and former President Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law.
Around 11,000 people may lose their jobs with the network’s shutdown.
Read more: NTC orders ABS-CBN to stop operations