Vice-President Leni Robredo on Friday, July 10, criticized Congress for rejecting ABS-CBN’s application for franchise renewal describing it to have a “chilling effect’’ on press freedom.
By a vote of 70 to 11, the House Committee on Franchise Renewal rejected the network’s 25-year franchise extension.
In a statement, Robredo said that the rejection of the franchise extension of ABS-CBN will likely have an adverse implication saying that it is not far-fetched that newspaper editorial choices will now be affected.
Also, Robredo pointed out that the decision left thousands of the network’s employees jobless including those under contractual status and industries that hinge their existence to ABS-CBN.
She noted that this also hampers the delivery and flow of reliable information to the millions of the network’s clientele.
The Vice-President also said that it is saddening for Congress to take the path of refusing to renew the franchise of ABS-CBN instead of focusing its sight and resources on implementing measures to combat COVID-19.
She stressed that the government should promote press freedom and enhance freedom of speech but recent events proved otherwise.
Robredo said that the arrest of Rappler CEO Maria Ressa, the signing of the Anti-Terrorism Law and now the closure of ABS-CBN send the message that groups expressing legitimate opposition to certain government policies will be treated unfavorably.
She emphasized that the turn of events is a bitter pill to swallow in the midst of the country’s fight against the pandemic.