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CHR defends press over ‘current hostile environment’

06:32 PM February 10, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Monday took up the cudgels for the media amid what it called the “current hostile environment that restrains press freedom and imperils journalists.”

On the occasion of the celebration of the National Press Week, which is commemorated every second week of February, CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said the press plays a vital role in fostering social good and in enabling other freedoms “by speaking truth to power and bringing relevant information to the public,” yet it exposes itself to harassment and intimidation from those who had been the subject of its reporting.

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“The press guards the truth, which anchors our values and all that we hold dear. Our freedoms can easily be snatched from us if not for the valuable information, factual reportage, and awareness provided by free press. Let us stand with the fourth estate so they may continue to blaze the light of truth that shields our rights and freedoms,” de Guia said in a statement.

De Guia cited the non-renewal of the ABS-CBN franchise bill as another major concern, following the “personal grievances” of President Rodrigo Duterte towards the network.

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“Political weather and whims should not dictate the fate of ABS-CBN, or any other media network, that serves as a pillar of press freedom and democracy,” she said.

“If this happens to one huge media company, then it will send a chilling effect to other media networks, which can result to a more abysmal state of press freedom, including our access to information and freedom of expression,” she added.

The legislative franchise of the media giant is set to expire on March 30, 2020, unless Congress decides to act on its renewal.

The Office of the Solicitor General, however, jumped the gun by filing a quo warranto petition at the Supreme Court to void what it claimed to be violations of ABS-CBN of its franchise.

The Philippines ranked 134th out of 180 countries in the 2019 World Press Freedom Index. According to the index released by Paris-based Reporters Without Borders, the Philippines’ rank dropped due to journalism-related deaths, “troll armies,” and “harassment campaigns” against journalists and media outfits.

READ: Calida reprises Marcos-era repression in filing quo warranto plea vs ABS-CBN – lawyers’ group

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TAGS: ABS-CBN, CHR, Commission on Human Rights, Jacqueline Ann de Guia, National Press Week, Office of the Solicitor General, Philippine press
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