The closure of Sugbo TV and Sugbo News stemmed from budget concerns and is only temporary pending a review of its programs, acting Gov. Agnes Magpale said yesterday.
In a press conference held at her office, Magpale denied that she ordered the dismantling of the facilities used by Sugbo TV, a 24-hour cable TV program of suspended Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia.
“They are not an independent media institution; they are an adjunct of Governor Garcia’s office. The issue on prior restraint is not applicable. I called the Sugbo TV head and advised her of the temporary shutdown… Sugbo TV will be back in January,” Magpale said.
Magpale earlier requested policemen to guard sensitive offices in the Capitol compound including the treasurer’s office and TV facilities.
The acting governor also said they downloaded episodes aired at the provincial news channel that were supposedly used for “campaigning.”
“The Garcias used the Sugbo TV in campaigning,” she told reporters.
Magpale said they will do some ’reformatting’ on some programs in keeping with its mandate to promote Cebu province.
She also asked for an executive summary of its functions and duties of the 35 employees.
A pending ordinance institutionalizing the Sugbo TV and Sugbo news is still pending before the Provincial Board (PB).
It is sponsored by PB majority floor leader Arleigh Sitoy who said he will present a plantilla of employees to be discussed in next year’s session.
Magpale also said editor Roger Serna told her that Sugbo News has ceased printing five months ago. But Serna denied this in a text message to Cebu Daily News.
“Wrong. Six months our outputs did not come out of the printing press because the purchase request had not been approved. That’s what I said to Ina Asirit and PB Member Peter John Calderon,” he said.
Three AM radio stations were also sent letters notifying the management that pending review, block-time announcers on province-paid programs should not go on air without Magpale’s approval.
The acting governor said payments will still be made to the radio stations following the terms of the contracts, which expire on Dec. 31.
For its part, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) condemns the closure of Sugbo TV and Sugbo News, saying there is no justification for Magpale or anyone from either side to close these outlets.
“Doing so is outright illegal and violates the Constitutional guarantee to a free press and the people’s right to know,” said NUJP chairman Nestor Burgos.
He called on the Palace to impose sanctions against Magpale for closing both outlets. /Carmel Loise Matus, Correspondent