Denial of ABS-CBN’s new franchise starts ‘death knell’ for press freedom – Hontiveros
MANILA, Philippines — Denying a new franchise for ABS-CBN means that “we have effectively begun to ring the death knell for freedom of the press in the country,” said Senator Risa Hontiveros.
In a statement, Hontiveros denounced the decision of the House Legislative Franchise Committee to deny the franchise renewal of the network as it called on the public to speak out against “this outrageous act of political persecution.”
“We must protect the cause of a free press in this country. We must not be afraid to hold those in power into account,” she added.
She further warned that “[h]istory will be harsh to those who ignored the most basic needs of Filipinos during this pandemic and instead used it to consolidate power for selfish reasons.”
“Naniniwala ako na sa huli, maniningil ang mga anak natin. Maniningil ang kasaysayan,” she said.
According to Hontiveros, the non-renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise “has set a dangerous precedent.”
“Because the government allowed politicking in the process of renewing a legislative franchise and succeeded in the shutting down of a media institution, we have effectively begun to ring the death knell on press freedom in the country,” she stressed.
Hontiveros said the non-renewal of the ABS-CBN franchise “sends a chilling message to Filipino media practitioners and journalists in what she called as a form of” political persecution: “toe the line or get shut.”
She also lamented how the closure of ABS-CBN would restrict the Filipino people’s access to vital information, particularly following a pandemic.
“While Filipinos are struggling with an unprecedented public health crisis brought by COVID-19, we have limited their access to life-saving information through the closure of a major media network that services at least 69 million Filipinos,” she said.
“Because officials committed to settling their personal score with ABS-CBN, 11,000 workers are now in danger of losing their jobs and may fail to provide for their families in the near future; all while Filipinos are facing a major economic recession due to the global pandemic,” the senator added. [ac]
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