FOCAP on junking of ABS-CBN franchise bid: We won’t flinch from this attack
MANILA, Philippines — The Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP) assures the public that they would not flinch from the attacks against press freedom, after the House of Representatives denied ABS-CBN’s bid for a new franchise.
According to FOCAP, the group knows that this is another attack on the country’s vaunted free speech because this organization was founded during the “dark days” of late dictator and former president Ferdinand Marcos’ martial law regime, when, incidentally, ABS-CBN was also not allowed to operate freely.
“[FOCAP] condemns the vote of the House of Representatives’ committee on legislative franchises to reject the license renewal of ABS-CBN, the country’s largest broadcaster, as a painful stab at press freedom,” FOCAP said in a statement on their Facebook page.
“FOCAP was founded during the dark days of martial law in 1974 to safeguard press freedom. The threats have never ceased and we will never flinch and never cower,” they added.
According to the group, media practitioners all over the country should also rally behind the upholding of press freedom, and maintain its “loyalty to the public and dedication to the truth.”
The group also vowed to support ABS-CBN every step of the way toward its resumption of regular operations.
“FOCAP stands by its ABS-CBN colleagues in this profoundly dark day for journalists in the Philippines and will join them in the struggle ahead to defend independent and courageous journalism that exacts accountability and the rule of law,” FOCAP noted
Earlier, 70 lawmakers from the House committee on legislative franchise and other ex-officio members voted to approve a technical working group (TWG) report, which denies ABS-CBN’s franchise application.
The bills, filed even before ABS-CBN was shut down last May 5, would have allowed the network to operate for the next 25 years.
Only 11 lawmakers voted against the TWG report, while two inhibited and one abstained.
FOCAP echoed sentiments from other people who support ABS-CBN’s franchise bid like Vice President Leni Robredo, who underscored the network’s importance in covering the COVID-19 pandemic, which has disrupted normal systems.
“The decision deprives the Filipino people of an independent source of information when millions are grappling with the coronavirus pandemic. It obliterates the livelihood of thousands of journalists and media workers who risk their lives each day to keep the public informed,” FOCAP said.
Groups have chided the lawmakers who voted for the junking of the franchise, as it would not only affect press freedom but also the livelihood of workers who may lose their jobs, as ABS-CBN’s management already told government that they may lay off employees by August.
ABS-CBN’s free television and radio broadcasts have remained shut since the National Telecommunications Commission issued a cease and desist order against it, after its previous franchise expired last May 4.
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