Rep. Garbin denies involvement in Albay-based radio closure

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 9) — Ako Bicol Rep. Alfredo Garbin denied claims he was involved in the closure of Zagitsit News FM, a radio station based in Legazpi City in Albay. 

He said the station should, in fact, be thankful it was allowed to operate in the past six years, even without a congressional franchise and a separate frequency.

The National Telecommunications Commission issued a cease-and-desist order, a copy of which is still being acquired by CNN Philippines, against Zagitsit News FM on Monday.

Station manager and owner Hermogenes “Jun” Alegre, a well-known voice impersonator of President Rodrigo Duterte, said the commission was likely pressured by Congress’ legislative franchises committee, where Garbin is an “influential member.”

The Bicol-based lawmaker dismissed as “baseless” Alegre’s claims, noting that other radio stations have also been shut down by the NTC for operating without a franchise.

Alegre is vying for a provincial board member seat in Albay. He is an ally of incumbent Legazpi Mayor Noel Rosal, who is running for Albay governor.

Garbin, on the other hand, is challenging Rosal’s wife, Geraldine, in next year’s mayoralty race in Legazpi.

Alegre said he and his lawyers will do their best to challenge the order, but that the station will continue broadcasting through other platforms.

Zagitsit News FM has been operating since 2015 via its affiliation with the Hypersonic Broadcasting Corporation. It said its permit to operate will not expire until Nov. 19.

Garbin pointed out that the closure, which drew the ire of local media practitioners, was not an act of suppression of press freedom, as the operation of the radio station was “illegal” from the very start.

CNN Philippines‘ stringer Rosas Olarte contributed to this report.