Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon grieves the decision of the House Committee on Legislative Franchises to deny the franchise application of broadcast giant ABS-CBN Corp.
Drilon on Friday said that the decision reminds him ‘of the dark pages in the history of Philippine press in 1972’.
“Democracy thrives when there is free press and when journalists can exercise complete freedom to do their mandate of reporting facts without fear. But with what happened to ABS-CBN, it has shown that the “sword of Damocles” can be unleashed any time,” Drilon said in a statement.
The senator believes ‘that the only fault of ABS-CBN is it stepped on some powerful political toes’.
“The sword of Damocles will continue to hang perilously over other media networks. Both the legislators and the executive can wield the sword at their whim and caprice. This is when democracy starts to weaken,” Drilon warned.
Drilon stressed that the Philippines need more access to information amidst the 2019 Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
The lawmaker said that ABS-CBN complements other stations in providing timely and accurate reportage even in the farthest locality unreachable to others, even to the government.
While he trusts that ABS-CBN as an institution can survive, Drilon worries for the people whose livelihood depends on the network.
He said that 11,000 workers, who have families to feed, rent and mortgages to pay and children to send to schools, will lose their jobs next month, and will suffer the consequences of the decision of the House of Representatives.
“This could have been avoided had the Congress granted the franchise renewal of the broadcasting network,” Drilon said.
Drilon said that ABS-CBN Corp. will have to wait until after the public elects new members of Congress in 2022 to apply again for the renewal of its 25-year franchise.