Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go on February 24, 2020, demanded impartiality from ABS-CBN as he denounced the alleged black propaganda aired by the network against then Davao City mayor and now President Rodrigo Duterte during the 2016 election campaign.
Go was referring to the negative advertisement which was paid for by then vice-presidential candidate Antonio Trillanes IV. ABS-CBN, on the other hand, failed to air some of the campaign ads paid by Duterte during the campaign period.
During Monday’s Senate public hearing on the network’s franchise, Go said the grievances of Duterte against the network are valid.
He cited the Fair Elections Act which states that “All members of media, television, radio or print, shall scrupulously report and interpret the news, taking care not to suppress essential facts nor to distort the truth by omission or improper emphasis. They shall recognize the duty to air the other side and the duty to correct substantive errors promptly”.
“It is unfair to allow a negative ad (to air) a week before the election and then not approve legitimate ads for then presidential candidate Mayor Duterte. It says so in the Fair Elections Act,” Go said in his opening statement during the hearing.
Enjoining ABS-CBN to rectify the issue, Go called for fair and balanced reporting from the network, saying “media networks are supposed to be neutral and impartial”.
“But if this is the case–if some media networks and some political elites and economic elites can get together and destroy the candidacy of one candidate, tama nga ang Pangulo na labanan ang mga elitista at oligarkiya na kasalukuyang naghahari sa ating bansa (then the President is correct that we should fight elites and oligarchs who are presently controlling our country),” Go said.
Go said the network should stay true to its slogan of serving the Filipino nation.
“‘Di ba sabi ninyo po, ‘in the service of the Filipino nation’? Ganun din po ako, serbisyo sa Pilipino, so unahin natin ang interes ng Pilipino (Didn’t you say, in the service of the Filipino nation? Me too, in the service of the Filipino, so let’s prioritize the interest of the Filipinos),” Go said.
“Trabaho ko, my job as a legislator, is to vote according to conscience, and my conscience is with the Filipino people,” he added.
Go, former Special Assistant to the President, said Duterte wants nothing but balanced and fair reporting from the media.
“Fair reporting: that is all the President wants. Ano lang po ang totoo (Only the truth). Nothing more, nothing less,” he said.
The lawmaker from Davao City then urged the network to reveal the truth regarding the unaired paid ads and the black propaganda against Duterte.
“If you want fair reporting, then ilabas ninyo ang katotohanan kung bakit nasaktan ang Pangulo. Mayroong mga media na mas priority pa nila ilabas ang sa tingin nilang mali at mapanira, kaysa ilabas ang mabuting pagseserbisyo na binibigay sa mga kapwa Pilipino (then air why the President was hurt. Some media, their priority is to air wrong and damaging content, and not good services to the Filipinos),” he said.
Amid his appeal for impartiality, Go expressed his concern for ABS-CBN employees who could lose their job if its franchise will not be renewed after it expires this year.
“Nonetheless, kung ako po ang tatanungin (if I will be asked), I will also appeal to the President, for the simple reason na ayaw ko na may mawalan ng trabaho (that I don’t want people to lose their jobs),” Go said.