Statement of the Commission on Human Rights on the decision of the House of Representatives to deny ABS-CBN’s franchise application

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It is with concern that the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) notes the denial of the franchise of ABS-CBN, the biggest broadcasting media outlet in the country.

CHR continues to stress the importance of timely, credible information in pushing everyone towards the correct direction in responding especially to a pandemic. The loss of a major network has inevitably left millions of Filipinos in the dark, especially those in far-flung areas with no access to the internet as an alternative.

The thousands of workers confronted with the sudden loss of jobs also adds to the number of the struggling population who continues to suffer from loss of livelihood due to the extended lockdowns.

But, ultimately, the decision impacts greatly on the work of media as purveyor of free speech and information. The denial of the franchise of ABS-CBN affects greatly public interest given the reach of its broadcast which extends to all corners of the country.

Unless Congress can disabuse the minds of the public that its decision was not based on a fair review and was devoid of any political consideration, the denial of the franchise, gives a chilling effect on the freedom of the press.

In the end, allegations of violations should have been dealt in accordance with existing laws. And the same standard that was used for ABS-CBN should have been consistent with the rest of the franchise applications. Otherwise, this puts in question the rule of law fundamental in protecting rights and instead shows a rule by law—devoid of fairness and justice. /Stacy Ang

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