Dispatch from Crame No. 801: Sen. Leila M. de Lima’s Comments on the Failure of the SC to Issue a TRO in the ABS-CBN Case


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Thousands of Filipinos and their dependents employed and supported, hundreds of millions of pesos in taxes paid, billions of pesos in trade and commercial activities generated for our economy, thousands of families given aid, and much needed news, information, and entertainment delivered to the far reaches of our archipelago. That is the extent of the contribution of ABS-CBN to our country whenever they operate. That is what we lost when the House of Representatives, following the instructions from Mr. Duterte, refused to hear their franchise renewal, and when the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) subsequently issued a cease and desist order.

It has been 18 days since ABS-CBN shut down its TV operations and there is still no resolution in sight. After initially agreeing to issue a provisional franchise pending a thorough and protracted debate, the House of Representatives changed its mind and opted rather to deliberate on the full franchise extension. This would take time; time that the families and companies dependent on the continued operations of ABS-CBN do not have. For every day that their franchise renewal is delayed, ABS-CBN draws nearer to bankruptcy and becomes less capable of supporting their employees and resuming operations.

Ang puno’t dulo ng lahat ng ito ay pulitika at pagmamalabis sa kapangyarihan. Hindi natin dapat payagang magdusa ang mga inosenteng empleyado at ang kanilang mga sambahayan dahil lamang sa pamumulitika sa Kamara at sa NTC, at sa kanilang pikit matang pagsunod sa kagustuhan at kapritso ng nasa Malakanyang.

I call on the Supreme Court to issue a status quo ante order with a TRO and put a stop to this madness. Let us not let the political forces hold the ABS-CBN hostage as its fate is being discussed in a committee. Yes, Congress holds the power to renew or revoke the franchise. But there are real, compelling arguments for their continued operations pending a final decision from Congress.

There is no injustice in allowing ABS-CBN to operate again for the meantime. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Stopping their operations when there is a real possibility of their franchise renewal would cause grave losses for their company and its dependents from which they may not recover. At a time when we need as many economic activities as we can allow, shutting down a billion-peso company pending resolution of their case is a great disservice to our country. We cannot afford to lose any more partners in nation-building.

More than the financial interests involved is the higher cause of press freedom that must, at all times be protected. It is also about checking a palpable abuse of power. It is the Supreme Court’s solemn duty to do these with utmost fidelity and courage

Put ABS-CBN back on air! Let sanity and justice prevail! ###

(Access the handwritten version of Dispatch from Crame No. 801, here: https://issuu.com/senatorleilam.delima/docs/dispatch_801)

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