All Things Must Pass: It’s time for Duterte to leave

A few days ago I reported on Philippine dictator (no longer “president”) Rodrigo Duterte and his petty whining about a Filipina working in Taiwan who criticized him for hi smass murder of citizens.  He has gone one step further down the road of infantile, petulant and thuggishness: He has censored and silenced an entire TV network for criticizing his corrupt government.

Philippines orders TV network to shut

A leading broadcast network in the Philippines that has been critical of the Duterte administration has been ordered to halt operations.

A Philippine government agency has ordered the country’s leading broadcast network, which the president has targeted for its critical news coverage, to halt operations.

The National Telecommunications Commission ordered ABS-CBN Corp. to stop operations after its 25-year congressional franchise ended on Monday.

The network’s application for a renewal has been pending in Congress but hearings have been partly delayed by a massive lockdown amid the coronavirus pandemic.

One of the country’s oldest and most influential news networks, ABS-CBN continued its TV and radio news operations most of Tuesday but later announced it would stop operating later in the day.

“Millions of Filipinos will lose their source of news and entertainment when ABS-CBN is ordered to go off-air on TV and radio tonight when people need crucial and timely information as the nation deals with the COVID-19 pandemic,” the media giant said in a statement.

Media watchdogs have accused President Rodrigo Duterte and his aides of muzzling independent media like ABS-CBN that have critically reported on issues including the president’s bloody anti-drugs crackdown, which has left thousands of mostly poor suspects dead.

Government officials have denied the closure was a press freedom issue and stressed everybody should comply with the law.

Technically, not renewing a broadcast license is not censorship.  But to say he isn’t using this as a pretext to silence criticism is naïve at best, complicit at worst.