Press Release
May 6, 2020

Pacquaio: NTC action vs ABS-CBN was lawful but ill-timed

While dismissing claims that the Duterte government is attempting to subvert press freedom because of the decision of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to shut down broadcast giant ABS-CBN, Senator Manny Pacquaio said Wednesday that the timing was off and very divisive at a time when the country needs to unite in the war against the dreaded COVID-19 virus.

"Hindi po ako naniniwala na ang desisyon ng NTC ay may kinalaman sa press freedom dahil may pinagbabatayan namang batas. Yun nga lang, hindi maganda ang timing ng implementasyon nito dahil tayo nasa kalagitnaan ngayon ng giyera laban sa COVID-19 virus," Pacquiao said.

"Sinusuoortahan natin ang ABS-CBN lalo na't minsan ay naging bahagi rin ako ng Kapamilya network at hanggang ngayon ay itinuturing pa rin akong kapamilya, Pacquiao added.

Pacquiao said that more than ever, media entities such as ABS-CBN are crucial partners of the government in keeping the people well-informed on important matters pertaining to the corona virus.

The world's only eight-time world boxing champion said people are hungry for information at this time because most are just staying in their homes to wait it out as the government battles to stop the spread of the disease.

Pacquiao said that the NTC should have heeded the call for it to issue "Provisional Authority" to operate as it promised during the Congressional inquiry while their franchise is being tackled.

"Wala naman sigurong mawawala sa atin kapag nabigyan ng Provisional Authority to operate ng NTC ang ABS-CBN. Batid naman nating lahat na katuwang natin ang ABS-CBN sa sa pagbibigay ng tamang impormasyon sa ating mga kababayan habang hinaharap natin itong problema natin sa COVID-19. There is no question that the law should be implemented at all cost but we are now in the middle of a war against an unseen enemy. Di natin kailangang magkawatak-watak sa ganitong panahon," Pacquiao said.

Pacquiao said that allowing ABS-CBN to operate without a franchise is not unprecedented because the NTC has allowed this in the past for other broadcasting and telecommunications companies such as Smart Communications, Philippine Telegraph & Telephone Corp. (PT&T) and the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP)

Pacquiao however rejected allegations that the decision of the NTC is a deliberate act to suppress press freedom. Shutting down ABS-CBN for what the government views as valid reason is not suppressing press freedom.

He said that the NTC only acted "by the book" whereas it could have made some adjustments without committing any violation of the law.

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