Benevolence, compassion and charity
The Sangguniang Laiko ng Pilipinas, stands together with the various respectable and concerned people and organizations, against the Cease and Desist Order of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) prompting ABS-CBN to sign-off last May 5, 2020. ABS-CBN is the largest broadcasting entity in terms of coverage and audience; thus, locking down 42 television stations, including the flagship Channel 2, 10 digital broadcast channels, 18 FM stations, 5 AM stations, together with the “Malayang Mamamayan” DZMM radio station, is a palpable demonstration of power that undermines freedom of speech and the public’s right to information.
The NTC’s Order is inconsistent with its declaration in March 2020, that the broadcasting company could remain on air while the license renewal is pending in Congress. Likewise, it ignored the advice of the Department of Justice, that it is within NTC’s mandate to allow the network to operate until the bill renewing its franchise is passed. But the legislative body like ours, dominated by President Duterte’s loyalists, sat on the issue and the calculated delay of action cost the livelihood of thousands of Filipinos who have families to feed. Will President Duterte stand up and take responsibility for the lives of 11,000 ABS-CBN employees who lost their jobs, in the same manner that he publicly assured the thousands of returning OFWs, of his personal protection?
ABS-CBN is most needed now and the NTC’s decision to put it off the air is ill-timed. The network has provided the DOH, the IATF and other government agencies with substantial air time that kept the nation informed about the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in further knowledge about the virus and its preventive measures; the curve status of those infected; the impact of the lockdown in the economy; and the guidelines issued on the government’s aid to help the poor and the jobless. It is through ABS-CBN that diverse and effective ways of aid distribution is monitored and its irregularities, brought to the fore.
Therefore, in solidarity with the thousands of jobless employees, we urge Congress to take this matter seriously for the common good. Loftier than regulatory compliance and constitutional rectitude is the primacy of compassion, especially towards the needy during these distressful and uncertain times.
We are calling on all LAIKO members to rally in prayer calling on God, who is benevolent and full of compassion, to intervene. Now more than ever, let us join hands and help each other through this crisis.
In the meantime, we encourage ABS-CBN to persist. Despite being silenced, we marvel at how creatively you are using the social and digital media to pursue your slogan ‘in the service of the Filipino people.’ We are at your side! Resist! This too shall pass.
ROUQUEL A. PONTE
08 May 2020