MANILA – The Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) is using the franchise issue of embattled ABS-CBN as a chance to divide Filipinos who need unity amid fight against the dreaded coronavirus diseases (Covid-19), an official said Sunday.
Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Undersecretary Lorraine Marie Badoy said the ABS-CBN franchise issue “has clearly become a National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF ELCAC) issue” owing to the communists’ exploitation for their own interests.
“We are fully cognizant about how the terrorist CPP-NPA-NDF exploits the ABS-CBN closure and views it as an opportunity to sow chaos and division,” said Badoy, speaking for the NTF ELCAC.
In a statement, Badoy said the CPP-NPA-NDF and its legal fronts will stop at nothing to divide the Filipino people to reach its end goal of overthrowing the government.
“Through its broad alliances like Amnesty International that has meddled and weighed in with the narrative they force on us: suppression of press freedom. And right alongside them, the Movement Against Tyranny is crafting its propaganda strategy to bloat this exclusive franchise problem of a single TV station as a suppression of press freedom in our country,” she said.
Badoy was reacting to Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Ferdinand Gaite who accused the NTF-ELCAC of meddling with the ABS-CBN franchise issue by “spreading disinformation, fake news, to advance its sinister agenda.”
“The so-called National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), a witch-hunting, anti-communist task force shouldn’t be meddling in an issue that it clearly has no business meddling in, unless they have been ordered by their superior, by its chair, which is no other than Pres. Duterte himself,” Gaite said in a statement.
Gaite said he found it “quite ironic that the government has mobilized a militarist body to double down on the attack against ABS-CBN and still use the hashtag ‘PressFreedomIsAlive.’”
PCOO Facebook page earlier shared a post from the NTF-ELCAC page which published infographics that held the network responsible for the expiration of its broadcast permit. As of this posting, the infographics were already taken down.
PCOO Secretary Martin Andanar and Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the earlier NTF-ELCAC statement is not an official stance of the PCOO and the Office of the Presidential Spokesperson (OPS), respectively.
Badoy said the “meddling” with the franchise issue is the duty of the NTF-ELCAC to “debunk” anti-government propaganda by the communist movement.
She said that while they subscribed to the fact that the ABS-CBN franchise issue is a legal issue within the purview of Congress, the NTF-ELCAC will not allow the left to “deceive the people.”
“While we defer to the wisdom and separate powers of the legislature and the judiciary, we will not stand idly by and do nothing as these communist terrorist front organizations feast on the issue by harping on their twisted and false narratives and concocted lies to deceive the people. This is where NTF-ELCAC comes in- to debunk these vicious anti-government propaganda in order to protect public interest,” she said.
She urged the public to be aware of these alliances, noting that the only one that stands to benefit from this chaos is the terrorist CPP-NPA-NDF and its legal fronts.
In a separate statement, National Security Adviser and NTF-ELCAC Vice Chair Hermogenes Esperon Jr. shared Badoy’s sentiment, justifying the infographics which discuss the legal situation of ABS-CBN’s franchise.
“If the left is exploiting the issue, which it is, then NTF-ELCAC must come in and at the least warn and inform the people about the issues. Freedom of the press is not the issue here. I go for law and order,” Esperson said.
ABS-CBN’s stopped its broadcast operations on May 5 to comply with the cease and desist order of the National Telecommunications Commission’s (NTC).
The NTC ordered the closure of ABS-CBN’s television and radio broadcasting stations following the expiration of the station’s franchise on May 4.
ABS-CBN already filed a petition before the Supreme Court (SC) to nullify NTC’s cease and desist order.
Malacañang said it is leaving ABS-CBN’s fate to the high court.
Call for unity
Badoy empathized with the ABS-CBN workers, suppliers, clientele, and the viewing public and assured them that the government will find ways to extend assistance to them.
She appealed to the public to be more discerning and not be manipulated by anti-government propaganda.
“We are not each other’s enemies–however far off our beliefs are about the issue at hand. We can stand on our shared ground of love for country and the desire to overcome and leave to our children a country finally free of this communist terrorist curse,” Badoy said.
“Yes to press freedom. Yes to the rule of law. No to CPP fake advocacy. No to CPP exploitation of a legal and business issue,” she added.
The CPP-NPA has been listed as a terror organization by the Philippines, United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. (PNA)