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Palace allays fears ABS-CBN closure could lead to martial law

Malacañang on Thursday disagrees with insinuations that the shutdown of media giant ABS-CBN could lead to the imposition of martial law in the Philippines.

In a televised briefing, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque differed with the view of Bishop Broderick Pabillo, apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Manila, that the closure of the network raised the “specter of martial law.”

“Nirerespeto po natin ang desisyon ni bishop, pero ang katotohanan po, bukas po ang Kongreso, bukas po ng ating Supreme Court at  ating ibang mga hukuman, bukas po ang media outlets, bukod lang po sa ABS-CBN dahil nawalan nga siya ng prangkisa,” Roque said.

“Sa tingin ko po, malayung-malayo tayo sa sitwasyon ng martial law noong 1972.”

The company was padlocked in 1972 when then-President Ferdinand Marcos placed the Philippines under martial law in response to the communist insurgency threat. It reopened in 1986 following Marcos’ ouster in a bloodless People Power uprising.

ABS-CBN’s franchise expired on Monday, prompting the National Telecommunications Commission to order the network to cease operations the following day. The company’s bid for franchise renewal has yet to be approved by Congress.

The Palace said President Rodrigo Duterte is neutral on the franchise issue despite his previous declarations that he would block its renewal over un-aired campaign advertisements in 2016. —Virgil Lopez/LBG, GMA News