By Czarina Nicole Ong Ki
The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has expressed concern over the delay in the renewal of the ABS-CBN franchise bill, especially now that the country is observing National Press Week.
CHR Spokesperson Atty. Jacqueline de Guia said that the country’s media is facing a “hostile environment that restrains press freedom and imperils journalists.” In delaying the franchise bill, de Guia said that the press is being attacked.
“We note that the President has expressed his desire to not renew the media company’s franchise due to ‘personal grievances,'” she said. “Political weather and whims should not dictate the fate of ABS-CBN, or any other media network, that serves as a pillar of press freedom and democracy.”
De Guia added that thousands of employees could lose their jobs if the franchise is not renewed. Should this happen, de Guia is concerned that this would send a “chilling effect” to other media networks and further restrict access to information and freedom of expression.
“The Commission has numerously called attention to the trend of harassment and intimidation directed towards media networks and media professionals, particularly those that report the gaps, abuses, and incompetence in government efforts and policies,” she stressed.
“Such reportage should be viewed as essential to the improvement of public services towards uplifting the dignity of all,” the spokesperson added.