Amnesty International Philippines
10 July 2020
Responding to news that the House committee on legislative franchises voted not to grant ABS-CBN its franchise, Amnesty International Philippines’ Human Rights Officer Wilnor Papa said:
“Days after President Duterte called Maria Ressa a fraud, the House Franchise Committee voted against granting ABS-CBN its franchise. The nation watched as committee members displayed their personal vendetta against the network during Congressional hearings.
“What happened to ABS-CBN today is yet another nail in the coffin of press freedom in the Philippines. It sets a worrying precedent that Duterte’s administration can and will clamp down on any person, organization or media outlet critical of his administration. The denial of ABS-CBN’s franchise is part of the government’s continuous attempts to restrict media freedom and the Filipino’s right of access to information.
“The unrelenting attacks against journalists and media organizations in the country aim to silence criticism hounding Duterte and his stronghold. History can attest, however, that the media will not be bullied into subservience even and especially by the most tyrannical powers.”
On 10 July 2020, after months of deliberations and appeals, the House committee on legislative franchises voted to deny ABS-CBN its franchise with 70 votes to adopt the rejection and 11 to dismiss. With the House panel’s decision, 11,000 ABS-CBN employees are at risk of being laid off by August.
On 5 May 2020, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) issued a cease-and-desist order against ABS-CBN, ordering the company to stop operating its TV and radio broadcasting stations nationwide “due to the expiration of its congressional franchise”. Amnesty International Philippines said it was yet another attack on freedom of expression that must be vigorously opposed and reiterated that press freedom must be upheld.