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Peddlers of fake news against ABS-CBN now identified; face investigation, PCOO confirms

COO Secretary Martin Andanar said the person responsible will be asked to explain before proper action is taken by the agency

The Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) deemed it “unnecessary” to investigate the re-sharing of an unverified social media post on the ABS-CBN shutdown issue after it identified the person behind the act.

PCOO Secretary Martin Andanar said the person responsible will be asked to explain prior to any action that will be taken by the agency.

“With the identification of the individual accountable for uploading and sending of the contentious Facebook post, our office deems an investigation into the matter, unnecessary,” Andanar said.

“A memorandum is scheduled to be sent within the day asking the individual for an explanation, after which the proper action will be taken by the PCOO,” he added.

The PCOO has restricted the number of cross-posting of content across all social media pages.

Through a Department Order, Andanar said PCOO agencies must limit posts to briefings of President Rodrigo Duterte, Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, news programs, among others.

The policy change was prompted by a now deleted Facebook post by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) that accused ABS-CBN of franchise violations. The aforementioned post was shared by PCOO’s official Facebook page.

ABS-CBN reporter Mike Navallo posted screenshots of the spreading of fake news and propaganda on his Facebook account.

Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO), National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict…

Posted by Jobert Navallo on Saturday, May 9, 2020

Navallo, who garnered praise from the Filipino people for previously standing up to SolGen Jose Calida during an exchange back in February, made it clear that the network’s shut down was caused by a delay in Congress as it relates to its franchise renewal, and not because of legal issues, which unfortunately many still believe in.

“ABS-CBN’s franchise bill was not disapproved due to legal issues BUT Congress didn’t act on it. Period.

“All issues were cleared during Senate hearing except for possible P200 fine,” Navallo wrote.

NTF-ELCAC making a post about ABS-CBN just looks and sounds unusual, says Navallo.

“Why is an anti-communist armed conflict task force interested in an issue involving ABS-CBN? Are we communists now?

“Why are Filipino taxpayers paying fake news peddlers? Ibalik niyo taxes namin!

“Akala ko po ba neutral ang Pangulo?” he added.

“From the Office of the Presidential Spokesperson –
We wish to clarify that the above posts did not come from the Office of the Presidential Spokesperson and the NTF Stratcomms which is headed by the OPS. Hence, not the official statement of our Office.”

Secretary Martin Andanar denied any involvement of the PCOO.

“We would like to state that the resharing by the PCOO Facebook Page of a posted content by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict Facebook Page regarding the legal situation of ABS-CBN Corp’s broadcast license was done without the usual vetting process of our office.

“That being said, the posted content is not in any way an official statement or an opinion of the PCOO. The issue regarding ABS-CBN Corporation’s network franchise remains within the purview of Congress.”

Navallo’s followers concurred that the posts were simply fake news.

“Naku notorious ‘yang NTF-ELCAC na ‘yan. Daming fake news na kinakalat, lakas pa mang-redtag. Mga kaibigan ko napahamak na d’yan.”

“Puro military solution ang alam to “end communist insurgency” pero hindi naman ina-address ang concerns ng grassroots.”

“National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC)? In their view,
It makes sense na ang magkakalat ng fake news na yan ay ang NTF-ELCAC malalim ang roots nyan sa regions. And people who don’t have legitimate news media tulad ng ABS-CBN and of course local/regional press sa mga probinsiya will be influenced by the NTF-ELCAC simply because wala nang mag s-scrutinize sa mga fake news na ikakalat nyang group na yan.”

“Wow, people of the Philippines, this is the kind of PCOO we have had—purveyor of fake news.”

“Even the Philippine Information Agency NCR page is blindly spreading disinformation and propaganda. The irony. Pero hindi na nakapagtataka…”

“Hindi daw sa PCOO galing yang posts na yan? Nevertheless, na-post na! Is it any wonder I can’t believe them?”

Neng Tamano, president of the Federation of International Cable TV Associates of the Philippines (FICTAP) was accused of spreading fake news against ABS-CBN as well, as seen on live television very recently.

Tamano told 24 Oras that ABS-CBN was killing the TV industry.

“Pero naman ang ginagawa naman nila, ‘yung ginagwa nila ngayon ay siyang pumapatay sa cable TV industry.”

She basically said that TV Plus and KBO violated the terms of ABS-CBN’s franchise.

“Kaya pinaglalaban namin ‘yan, ayaw naming mabura ‘yung micro, small and medium cable operators, members namin nationwide, na mawawalan ng hanapbuhay dahil diyan sa ginagawa nilang TVplus na wala man lang prangkisa,” she added.

The KBO programs were completely legal as pay-per-view activities do not violate any terms, but none of that mattered since Congress never prioritized the franchise renewal.

The franchise renewal would enable ABS-CBN to utilize a certain frequency range. Multiple digital channels would then be broadcasted in a specific frequency range. So there were simply no violations as the ‘one franchise one channel’ is inaccurate and really is ‘one franchise one frequency’.

FICTAP’s members are mostly TV operators and see ABS-CBN as competition, which makes sense why the non-profit organization praised the NTC for shutting down the network.

But interestingly, President Duterte has said he had nothing to do with influencing Calida or Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra in the renewal of the franchise, which both do not share the same opinions on, as stated by presidential spokesperson Harry Roque.

Roque also said that President Duterte is neutral on the issue and wants members of the House of Representatives to vote “as their conscience dictates.”

“He will not take it against them if the franchise bill is passed by Congress or not. He is completely neutral on the issue. Vote as your conscience dictates.”

“For as long as there is no constitutional infirmity, then he will not object to the law,” Roque said.

In addition, the “President’s hands are tied.” when it comes to approving the network’s franchise, and has no authority to extend or delay of its renewal, Roque said.

Various Malacañang officials came to the defense of President Duterte after ABS-CBN’s supporters said the shut down was “shades of a political vendetta.”

Duterte has constantly been threatening ABS-CBN for allegedly not airing his local advertisements when he was running for the Presidency in 2016, but Roque pointed out that he has since accepted the ABS-CBN CEO Carlo Katigbak’s apology.

Roque and chief presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo agree that House members should be blamed for all of this.


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