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Lawyer’s group vows day of reckoning in ABS-CBN shutdown

By Jeffrey Damicog

An organization of lawyers has vowed that the government will be held liable for having shut down ABS-CBN.

Workers of ABS-CBN and members of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines rally to show support for the broadcaster in Manila on May 5, 2020. - The Philippines' top broadcaster ABS-CBN on May 5 was ordered off the air over a stalled operating licence renewal, drawing fresh charges that authorities were cracking down on press freedom. (Photo by Maria TAN / AFP)

Workers of ABS-CBN and members of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines rally to show support for the broadcaster in Manila on May 5, 2020. – The Philippines’ top broadcaster ABS-CBN on May 5 was ordered off the air over a stalled operating licence renewal, drawing fresh charges that authorities were cracking down on press freedom. (Photo by Maria TAN / AFP)

“There will be a time for accountability, and this will be part of the lengthening list that this government will be judged on,” the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) said in a statement.

The NUPL made the statement following the cease and desist order issued by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) on Tuesday, May 5, instead of a provisional authority that was supposed to allow the media giant to operate while its legislative franchise, which expired on May 4, remains pending to be renewed before Congress.

“By resorting once again to outright suppression, this administration reveals that COVID-19 is not the only disease that besets us and spurs clamors for a cure,” the NUPL stressed.

The group called the NTC order “a deplorable assault on free press that further reveals that this administration is more interested in restricting basic freedoms than in containing a pandemic.”

It added it is “no less than a gag order that is unwelcome amid persistent clamors not only for decisive medical solutions to a pandemic, but also for the propagation of credible news sources to help people navigate through the uncertainties of these perilous times.”

“The cease and desist order issued in the afternoon of May 5 is duplicitous because the NTC is aware of the request of the House of Representatives for the NTC to extend the network’s franchise until the House has finished its own deliberations and the legal opinion of the Justice department that the NTC has the authority to do so,” it stated.

“The Constitution demands that all gaps, doubts, or gray areas in the law that are tangential to basic freedoms must be resolved in favor of these fundamental rights,” the NUPL explained.


Source: Manila Bulletin (https://news.mb.com.ph/2020/05/06/lawyers-group-vows-day-of-reckoning-in-abs-cbn-shutdown/)

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