An empty booth of DZMM, the radio arm of ABS-CBN, is seen at the station headquarters in Manila on May 6, 2020. The shutting down of the Philippines' top broadcaster crosses a dangerous line in eroding the nation's democracy and sends a warning to those who risk angering President Rodrigo Duterte, watchdogs said.
AFP/Ted Aljibe
US 'concerned' over shutdown of ABS-CBN
(Agence France-Presse) - May 8, 2020 - 8:35am

WASHINGTON, United States — The United States on Friday voiced concern over the Philippine government-ordered shutdown of the country's top broadcaster ABS-CBN, which has been targeted by President Rodrigo Duterte.

"We are concerned by the situation regarding ABS-CBN," State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said.

"An independent media plays a critical role in facilitating the open exchange of information and ideas which is vital to free, prosperous and secure democratic societies," she said.

Ortagus said that free media was especially vital in promoting public health amid the global COVID-19 pandemic.

"This is true for the United States, the Philippines, as well as countries around the world," she said.

ABS-CBN was forced off the air over the stalled renewal of its operating license, which Duterte had repeatedly pledged to block.

Duterte had regularly assailed the media powerhouse, which he accuses of failing to air his ads during the 2016 presidential election despite accepting payment to do so.

The Philippines is a former colony and treaty ally of the United States but tensions have grown over Duterte's signature policy of cracking down on drugs, a campaign in which police have killed thousands of people.

Duterte bristles at any foreign criticism and barred his cabinet from visiting the United States after the Philippines' former police chief said his US visa was cancelled.

In February, Duterte also set in motion the process to withdraw from the Visiting Forces Agreement, a key part of the defense alliance.

Despite the rift, Duterte has found an affinity with President Donald Trump, who also frequently attacks mainstream media.

Trump said ending the troop agreement would save the United States money and has praised the anti-drug campaign, a sharp change from criticism by his predecessor Barack Obama.

ABS-CBN FRANCHISE US-PHILIPPINES TIES
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: June 1, 2020 - 10:58am

ABS-CBN Corp. stopped broadcasting on its TV and radio stations on May 5, 2020 after the National Telecommunications Commission issued a cease and desist order. The network's franchise had lapsed on May 4 without action by the House of Representatives.

June 1, 2020 - 10:58am

Rep. Rufus Rodriguez (Cagayan de Oro) tells his fellow lawmakers that the accusations against ABS-CBN, including alleged foreign ownership, have no basis in law.

Rodriguez points out that ABS-CBN chairman emeritus Eugenio "Gabby" Lopez III was born to Filipino parents under the 1935 Constitution. In effect, he was born a Filipino citizen.

The lawmaker also stresses that there is no violation on ABS-CBN's issuance of Philippine Depositary Receipts, which have approval of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

June 1, 2020 - 10:53am

Rep. Vilma Santos Recto (Batangas), sponsoring her bill granting ABS-CBN a franchise, says the network has helped the economy in creating economies by creating jobs for 11,000 people.

Santos Recto shares her concern to affected ABS-CBN employees as the House committees on legislative franchises and good government and public accountability resume their joint hearing on the network's franchise renewal.

"Marami pong umaasa sa mga talents ng ABS-CBN, kasama na rin po ang kani-kanilang mga pamilya. Let us give due consideration to the talents of ABS-CBN. They are also part of the workforce of the country," she says.

May 26, 2020 - 6:27pm

A labor group says it continues to support the re-opening of the ABS-CBN Corp. through the enactment of pending bills at the Lower House for its renewed fresh 25-year franchise.

"While we recognize the justness of the previous labor cases being involved by the ABS-CBN management to their contractual workers in the past, we believe that there were proper and legitimate forum and venue where labor disputes were being settled including the Department of Labor and Employment through its National Labor Relations Commission, National Conciliation and Mediation Boards among other local courts," says Defend Jobs Philippines.

May 26, 2020 - 10:45am

Solicitor General Jose Calida declines the invitation to attend the House of Representatives hearing on the pending bills concerning the legislative franchise of ABS-CBN.

In a letter addressed to Rep. Franz Alvarez (Palawan), chair of the House committee on legislative franchises, Calida notes that his office had filed a quo warranto petition questioning the validity of ABS-CBN's franchise before the Supreme Court.

"The sub judice rule prohibits the undersigned, as the statutory counsel of both the Republic and the NTC, from sharing views and recommendations to relative merits of G.R. No. 251358 and G.R. No. 252119, respectively," Calida says.

May 19, 2020 - 5:06pm

Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano says they have decided to forego with the provisional franchise for broadcast giant ABS-CBN until Oct. 31, 2020. 

“I together with the House of Representatives leadership have decided to forego with the provisional franchise and immediately proceed with the hearings for the full 25-year renewal application of the ABS-CBN franchise,” says Cayetano.

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