Press Release
May 7, 2020


Describing it as a "tragedy" not just on the company, but for the Filipino people, Sen. Grace Poe said the closure of ABS-CBN network should serve as a "wake-up call" to Congress to live up to its mandate of granting franchises.

"When you threaten one media outlet or when one media outlet is in jeopardy, this also sends out a signal to others that we better be watching our back, we better be careful and somehow that poses a threat for others who would like to cover the news fairly," Poe said in a television interview Thursday.

"I think this has a larger impact than just on ABS-CBN, this is not just a tragedy of one person, of one company. Hindi lang ito trahedya ng iisang kumpanya, ito ay trahedya ng lipunan, 'pag nangyari ito, sapagkat ipinapakita natin na pwedeng baluktutin ang batas para lang maserbisyuhan ang layunin ng iilan," she stressed.

The network's shutdown highlights the critical role of Congress in exercising its exclusive powers independently, such as the grant of legislative franchise, which emanates from the House of Representatives.

"It's a wake-up call for them that NTC is not adhering to what it professed that it will do based on the opinion of the DOJ," she said.

During the Feb. 24 Senate public services hearing which Poe headed, Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba of the National Telecommunications Commission said that they could issue a provisional authority to allow ABS-CBN to remain on air upon the advice of the Department of Justice and on the principle of equity.

"They (NTC) could have reached out to us from the very beginning and said, 'you know, we're a little bit unsure about this, so Congress, please better act or these are the remedies'," she stressed.

"NTC should not be afraid," Poe said, referring to the threat of graft case by the Solicitor General against the officials of the agency.

"I think your case will hold up in any court, especially that you have the senators behind you and members of Congress," she said.

Poe said the timing of the closure order was "suspect" and "really off" especially as the country is dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic and the unhampered flow of reliable information is necessary to the public and government.

The loss of jobs could also pose a problem, not just for employees of the company, but on the downstream industries related with the operations of the network, she said.

"Now that the government can't even fulfil the requirements of giving enough social amelioration package to those who need it, we're going to add more people who will be in need of government support," she said.

The closure could also scare away potential investors, who would now think twice about investing because the incident showed that businesses could be easily shut down in the country.

"Ginawa ng Senado ang lahat ng aming makakaya para sa prangkisang ito, pero hindi namin maibibigay ang prangkisang ito kung hindi ito aaprubahan sa Kongreso. Kaya importante ang mga hakbang ng Kongreso sa mga darating na araw," Poe said.

Poe emphasized anew that she would inhibit from the deliberations and voting on matters concerning ABS-CBN's franchise that would be done in the Senate.

"I'm expressing my opinion here. I've already said that in any proceeding under my committee and any voting with regard to ABS-CBN, I've already inhibited myself," Poe stressed.

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