Renew CBCP broadcast franchise, solons urged
An international media watchdog has called on lawmakers to renew the legislative franchise of Catholic Church-run radio stations across the country that has been pending for more than a year now.
France-based organization Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF), also known by its English name Reporters without Borders, urged the House of Representatives to approve the franchise application of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) to operate Catholic Media Network’s 54 radio stations nationwide.
Pending since January 2017
“We urge Philippine parliamentarians to address the Catholic Media Network’s application so that this license can finally be renewed,” said Daniel Bastard, head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk, in a statement.
House Bill No. 4820, which would extend for another 25 years Republic Act No. 7530, the broadcast franchise granted to the CBCP, has been pending on the House committee on legislative franchises since Jan. 24, 2017, the day it was filed. It has yet to be put on the agenda by the committee.
The RSF has expressed concern that the “refusal” of lawmakers to renew the franchise appeared to be “politically motivated,” given the Church’s critical stance on President Duterte’s bloody campaign against illegal drugs.
“Given the Catholic Church’s criticism of the Duterte administration, this refusal to renew clearly seems to be politically motivated,” Bastard said.
“[The renewal] should be a mere formality, nothing more than a stamp on a four-page document,” he added.
The French group also condemned the recent online attack on Kodao, an alternative news outfit known for its coverage of human rights issues and the government’s shelved peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
Kodao’s website was hacked last week after it published a report on the arrest of NDFP consultant Rafael Baylosis by military and police agents.
“[As] Kodao is well-known for its uncompromising criticism of the authorities, its suspension also has all the hallmarks of a reprisal against the free press,” Bastard said.
The website suffered from a “code injection attack” through WordPress, according to RSF, and lost most of its online data. The site remained inaccessible as of Thursday.
Silencing critical media
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines also condemned the cyberattack, describing it as “part of the Duterte government’s efforts to silence critical media, as seen in [its] continuing attempt to shut down Rappler [and] threaten other news outfits and voices of dissent.”
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