- September 27, 2021 11:05
Far Eastern University (FEU) Department of Communication (DepComm), including Institute of Law professors and other student-led organizations, denounced on Friday the denial of a new 25-year franchise of ABS-CBN — the country’s largest broadcaster.
In an online statement, DepComm expressed their dismay over the decision of House Committee on Legislative Franchises to dismiss the network’s franchise renewal.
They stated, "This is not just an issue of franchise. This is a blow to press freedom, a valuable component in our democracy".
The department stated that access to information is very important and the ruling is "tantamount to denying the Filipino people the basic right to information especially in this difficult time".
Further, FEU Institute of Law professors stated that the decision became a reminder when the TV network was shut down during the Martial Law era under Ferdinand Marcos.
"The year is 2020. But the decision made in the halls of Congress today is a step back to 1972 when Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law and shut down ABS-CBN,” the statement read.
They stated that by denying ABS-CBN of their franchise the Committee had “failed to maintain its independence” from the President.
They added, “Seventy representatives, instead of representing the people, have chosen to represent and display despotic power by censuring media ''.
Student-led organizations such as FEU Central Student Organization (FEUCSO), Institute of Accounts, Business and Finance Student Council (IABFSC), Institute of Law Student Council (ILSC), Institute of Nursing Student Council (INSC), and Communication Society (CommSoc) also showed disapproval over ruling on media giant franchise.
The organizations stated that the decision was “unjustified, a “direct attack”, and a “suppression” on press freedom.
The House members finalized the verdict on ABS-CBN Corporation franchise with voting results of 70 not in favor for renewal, 11 in favor, 2 to inhibit and 1 abstain.
On February 10, Solicitor General Jose Calida filed a quo warranto petition against the media giant.
After the Senate hearing that cleared the network’s issues on breach of laws, the House held its first hearing on March 10 and had conducted 13 hearings since.
The network’s franchise expired last May 4 and was issued a cease and desist order from National Telecommunications Commission (NTC).
-Arabella Rochynne Asis