CHR: Denial of ABS-CBN franchise sends ‘chilling effect’ on press freedom
MANILA, Philippines — Unless the House of Representatives can prove that the decision to deny media giant ABS-CBN a new franchise was based on a fair review, it sends a “chilling effect” on the freedom of the press, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said Saturday.
“Unless Congress can disabuse the minds of the public that its decision was not based on a fair review and was devoid of any political consideration, the denial of the franchise, gives a chilling effect on the freedom of the press,” the CHR said in a statement.
“CHR continues to stress the importance of timely, credible information in pushing everyone towards the correct direction in responding especially to a pandemic,” the added.
“The loss of a major network has inevitably left millions of Filipinos in the dark, especially those in far-flung areas with no access to the internet as an alternative.”
After 13 hearings, the House of Representatives’ Committee on Legislative Franchises adopted a recommendation of the technical working group to deny the media giant a new franchise.
ABS-CBN has been off the air since May 5, after the National Telecommunication Commission (NTC) issued cease and desist order against the network.
The human rights commission said that the decision of lawmakers to deny ABS-CBN its franchise “impacts greatly on the work of media as purveyor of free speech and information.”
‘The denial of the franchise of ABS-CBN affects greatly public interest given the reach of its broadcast which extends to all corners of the country,” the CHR said.
It further said that the network’s supposed violations “should have been dealt in accordance with existing laws.”
“And the same standard that was used for ABS-CBN should have been consistent with the rest of the franchise applications. Otherwise, this puts in question the rule of law fundamental in protecting rights and instead shows a rule by law—devoid of fairness and justice,” the CHR said.
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