Sen. Risa Hontiveros believes that the decision of the House Committee on Legislative Franchises to deny the franchise application of broadcast giant ABS-CBN Corp. sets 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,” Hontiveros said in a statement on Friday, July 10.
The senator said that the political persecution of ABS-CBN sends a a chilling message to Filipino media practitioners and journalists to toe the line or get shut down.
Hontiveros also said that Filipinos have limited access to life-saving information during the 2019 Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic because of the closure of a major media network.
The lawmaker further warned that 11,000 workers will lose their jobs, and will fail to provide for their families in the near future because officials decided to settle their personal score with ABS-CBN.
Hontiveros urged the public to speak out against political persecution, protect the cause of a free press in the Philippines, and hold people in power into account.
“At a time when Filipinos are sick, jobless, and hungry, history will judge those who tried to silence the truth. History 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,” she said.