MANILA – A government move that forced ABS-CBN Corp. off the air was an "eloquent example" of "the creeping erosion of civil liberties," former Vice President Jejomar Binay said Wednesday.
Amid debates on who bears greater responsibility for the closure of the media and internet giant, the Philippines "cannot deny" that the day ABS-CBN shut down during martial law 48 years ago "was also the day democracy died," said Binay, among those who fought against repression during the Marcos regime.
"We hope that the men and women of ABS-CBN will continue to pursue the great calling of journalism in the service of the Filipino, especially in this period of uncertainty and anxiety over the COVID-19 pandemic and the creeping erosion of civil liberties, of which the network’s closure is an eloquent example," he said in a statement.
ABS-CBN's 25-year license to operate expired Monday while bills for its renewal, some filed in 2016, languished in Congress.
Lawmakers earlier urged the National Telecommunications Commission to allow the media and internet giant to operate provisionally beyond May 4 and officials previously gave the assurance that ABS-CBN would get a provisional permit.
However, the NTC's cease-and-desist order on Tuesday cited the franchise expiration and said the outfit's operators would have to appeal for a return to the airwaves.
Aside from franchise delays, ABS-CBN is facing a quo warranto challenge lodged before the Supreme Court by Solicitor General Jose Calida. The government's lead lawyer is seeking to nullify ABS-CBN's franchise due to alleged abuses such as illegal pay-per-view offerings and foreign ownership.
The network, which reaches millions of Filipinos through its television, radio and online platforms, said it has not violated the law in its 65 years of service.
Calida on Wednesday said Congress was to blame for the ABS-CBN shutdown.