By TERRENCE JAY BASUL
MANILA – Filipino journalists are questioning the awarding of the broadcasting frequencies formerly assigned to ABS-CBN to known allies of President Rodrigo Duterte.
“We are concerned at the concentration of power in a corporate media landscape already dominated by conglomerates and political clans. This has dire implications on the people’s right to relevant information especially during times of crisis,” the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines in a statement.
The frequencies assigned to Channel 2 and 16 will now be operated by Advanced Media Broadcasting System Inc., a company owned by one of the country’s billionaires and former Sen. Manny Villar, said the National Telecommunications Commission on Tuesday.
Villar’s daughter Camille, representative of Las Piñas, voted against the renewal of ABS-CBN franchise while his wife, Sen. Cynthia Villar, did not sign Senate Bill No. 1967, which sought to grant franchise to the largest media network in the country.
Other frequencies previously used by ABS-CBN were also assigned to Aliw Broadcasting Corp. and Sonshine Media Network Inc. owned by Pastor Apollo Quiboloy, also a known ally of the current administration.
According to reports, the NTC did not conduct a “traditional public selection process” and it is unclear how the new operators of the frequencies would be able to run it.
In a separate statement, InfraWatch PH convenor and lawyer Terry Ridon described the NTC’s moves as a “midnight deal” as it was done days before the start of the election period.
“NUJP recognizes that new networks could mean new jobs for media workers but we hope that the assignment of its former frequencies will not be another hindrance to getting ABS-CBN back on air and laid-off colleagues back at their jobs,” said the NUJP.
Three more doesn't cancel out one less#LabanKapamilya #IbalikAngABSCBN pic.twitter.com/jteZrg05lV
— Jonathan de Santos (@desamting) January 26, 2022
NUJP members used their social media platforms to denounce NTC’s moves, posting an image with the text “Information is a public good.” and hashtags #LabanKapamilya and #IbalikAngABSCBN.