On the issues surrounding the ABS-CBN media company


February 14, 2020

NOW that the Supreme Court has taken cognizance of the ‘Quo Warranto’ petition filed by the Office of the Solicitor General against media network, ABS-CBN, by asking the latter to submit its own position within a definite time frame, the National Press Club believes that the right thing to do is to leave it to the wisdom of our magistrates to decide based on the merits of their respective arguments.

Further commenting on the matter, from whomever they may be coming, especially from the so-called ‘legal experts,’ can only add to the public’s confusion and would not certainly help in the enlightenment of our people.

As for the company’s legislative franchise, the NPC believes that this matter entirely now rests with both chambers of our Congress and we wish ABS-CBN ‘goodluck’ in its effort to have its franchise renewed.

The NPC, however, further notes that the company has the benefit of time to have its franchise renewed dating back to the last administration.

Why it did not exert enough effort to do so given a congressional franchise’s immense impact on its profit and operation should not now be used as an excuse to claim that its belated effort— should it fail—is another ‘blow’ to press freedom.

As in the case of Rappler (which has been proven in 2018 to have violated our securities and tax laws and even our Constitution), the NPC is of the position that no one is above the law and that anyone found afoul with the law should be made answearable.

But as we await the result of the proceedings at the Supreme Court, the NPC enjoins everyone to withhold ‘judgement,’ so to speak, in the case of ABS-CBN.

At this point, we also call on the government, to state, for the record, what really is, its ‘media policy,’ given that we are living in a democracy.

On the one hand, its creation of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) aimed at protecting the life, liberty and security of the entire media community is truly laudable; the task force’s focused attention in following the court trial of the of the infamous ‘Ampatuan Massacre’ (that resulted, last December 2019, to the biggest number of convicted suspects in any court proceeding over the death of so many members of the press), was indeed a cause for celebration for the entire media community.

On the other hand, however, official investigations ending up with the prosecution of some media entities, although for violations of the law unrelated to the media profession, has created the disturbing impression that the press is under threat from the present administration. ###


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