Closure of 2 Cebu news outlets 'temporary'-A A +A
Monday, December 24, 2012
MANILA (Updated) -- Acting Cebu Governor Agnes Magpale clarified Monday that the shutdown of Sugbo TV and Sugbo News, the official news outlets of Cebu Provincial Government, is temporary pending the review of their manpower and operations.
Magpale, who assumed post following the suspension of Governor Gwendolyn Garcia for six months for grave abuse of authority, said the province is not terminating the television station's contract with local cable operator, Sky Cable.
"As a matter of fact, I was very emphatic. We will continue paying for whatever is in the contract. I am on process of reviewing contracts," Magpale told ANC on Monday.
She assured also that all 35 employees working for the two news outlets will not lose their jobs, but said that their contract will be reviewed.
Magpale, meanwhile, shrugged off the issue of prior restraint in relation to the closure of Sugbo TV, saying that the television station is "not an independent media entity."
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) over the weekend expressed its concern over the closure of the two official news outlets of the Provincial Government.
The group said it may file a case against Magpale for shutting down the services of the TV station.
Reports said Magpale ordered the uplink Internet connection of the local cable television station cut and the booth padlocked.
The Sugbo TV crew was also allegedly barred from continuing to cover the situation at the provincial capitol, where Garcia continues to stay in defiance of the six-month suspension order issued by Malacanang.
"Doing so is outright illegal and violates the Constitutional guarantee to a free press and the people's right to know," the NUJP said.
"I know your concerns, it's about freedom of the press. Please don't be misled by certain elements in Cebu that we are clamping down the press in Cebu," Magpale said in response to the NUJP statement.
Garcia said Monday in separate interview over ANC that Magpale could have done the review of the operation without shutting down the station and blocking its studio and personnel.
"You know, a review of operations is commendable because she might perhaps want to understand what the operations are all about," the suspended governor said.
However, she added, "She could very well have reviewed the operation without destroying the satellite dish and tampering with the computers. And practically acting like martial law has set in and they were clamping down on media."
Garcia said Sugbo TV and Sugbo News reported to the general public largely what mainstream media would not report for lack of space and time.
"Sugbo TV and Sugbo news gave the public a much wider perspective and understanding as well as information about what the Provincial Government was doing for them. And not only that, it also gave them an opportunity to be proud to be Cebuanos, to be proud of their culture, to be proud of ourselves as a people," she added.
Magpale said a review is necessary, as she recently found out that the television station doesn't have an independent media franchise.
The acting governor revealed that there is a plan to institutionalize Sugbo TV, a pet project of the suspended governor, and the proposal is awaiting the second reading approval of the Provincial Board.
Magpale said the operations manager of Sugbo TV is set to give her an executive briefing on Wednesday of the stations contracts and operations. (Sunnex)