Robredo says ABS-CBN shutdown ‘costs lives’

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 5) - Vice President Leni Robredo said the National Telecommunication Commission’s cease-and-desist order on the television giant ABS-CBN will “cost lives” amid the ongoing pandemic crisis.

“This free flow of information literally saves lives. Closing down ABS-CBN costs lives, on top of unnecessarily burdening the thousands who will lose their jobs,” said Robredo in a statement.

ABS-CBN’s 25-year franchise expired on May 4 after its application for renewal remained pending in Congress.

President Rodrigo Duterte has targeted the network for its critical coverage.

Robredo questioned the move of NTC and cited the role of the media during a crisis.

“Bakit ito ginagawa ngayon sa panahong humaharap tayo sa matinding krisis? Wala dapat puwang sa panggigipit at pansariling interes sa mga panahon kung kailan dapat nagtutulungan tayo,” she said.

[Translation: Why is this being done while we are all facing a crisis? There should be no time for harassment and selfish interests during the time when we should be helping one another.]

“All hands on deck dapat. All social institutions— including media— should be united under a single purpose: ang pagsiguro sa kaligtasan ng buhay ng bawat Pilipino (to make sure of every Filipinos’ safety).”

She also underscored the recent decision of the government to partially resume the operations of Philippine offshore gaming operators in the midst of the pandemic.

“Lalong nakabibigla na isasara ang ABS-CBN habang muling pinapayagang magbukas ang mga POGO. Hindi mahirap matukoy kung alin sa dalawang ito ang mas nakatutulong sa pagtugon sa krisis na kinakaharap natin ngayon,” said Robredo.

[Translation: It’s surprising that ABS-CBN will have to stop operating while the POGOs were allowed to resume their business. It’s not difficult to distinguish which one of these policies is more beneficial in solving the crisis we are facing now.]

The vice president is hoping the Duterte administration will reconsider granting a fresh franchise to ABS-CBN.

“Umaasa tayong mamumulat ang administrasyon sa panganib na dala ng pagsasara ng ABS-CBN, lalo na habang patuloy ang krisis pangkalusugang dala ng COVID-19,” said Robredo.

[Translation: We are hoping that the administration will realize the danger of shutting down ABS-CBN as the health crisis due to COVID-19 is ongoing.]