After ABS-CBN shutdown, Palace to US: Philippines has free, robust press
Malacañang assured on Friday the "foreign friends and allies" that the Philippines continues to have a free and robust press despite the shutting down of giant network ABS-CBN.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque issued the statement after the US State Department raised concern over the Philippine government's order to shutdown the broadcast network following the expiration of its franchise on May 4.
Congress has failed to renew ABS-CBN's franchise even if the petition has been pending before it for years.
"We share the view of the US State Department that an independent media is vital to democratic societies like the Philippines. This stance has never wavered on the part of the President (Rodrigo Duterte) and his administration," Roque said.
"The Philippines, we assure our foreign friends and allies, continues to have a free and robust press where the critics and the political opposition remain vocal in their aversion to the current government," he added.
Roque reiterated that granting of franchise to a media network is an independent prerogative of the legislative branch of government.
Similar to the US, he said the legislative branch is separate and independent from the executive branch.
"We, therefore, ask those who clamor for the continued operations of the network, whose broadcast franchise had lapsed, to lobby before their representatives in the august halls of Congress and make their voices be heard," he said.
Roque reiterated that Duterte is neutral on the issue of franchise and he would leave the matter to the wisdom of the members of Congress.
US State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus has underscored the importance of free media especially in promoting public health in the wake of the coronavirus disease pandemic.
ABS-CBN went off air in the evening of May 5, the same day that the National Telecommunications Commission issued a cease and desist order against the broadcast networks after its 25-year franchise expired on May 4. Celerina Monte/DMS