The College Editors Guild of the Philippines, the oldest, broadest, and only-existing alliance of tertiary student publications in the Asia-Pacific region, welcomes Senate President Vicente Sotto III’s Senate Bill №1967, seeking to renew ABS-CBN 25 year legislative franchise.
As every Filipino faces the ill-effects of the pandemic, lack of government support and militaristic approach to a public health crisis, Duterte’s fascist administration has instead chosen to pool their efforts to shut down ABS-CBN. It is evident that from this move alone that the administration has misplaced priorities and opportunistic tendencies during a pandemic.
“The fight for a free press and the right to information in the time of the pandemic is imperative. In far-flung areas in our country, Filipinos have been relying on the ABS-CBN for news and information since a greater number do not have access to the internet or cable TV. Since its closure, many Filipinos have been deprived of their right to information on how to prevent the virus and know the wider implications of the outbreak, as well as to evaluate the responses of our governments and the global community,” said CEGP Deputy Secretary-General Regina Tolentino.
“The pandemic and its new threat of Covid-19 variant have intensified the need for people to be able to access reliable news, a quest made challenging enough by the digital information overload,” Tolentino added.
The Duterte administration has unfolded its mishandling and lack of scientific and social planning on this pandemic which is why denying the network’s franchise was among their agenda.
“As we welcome this new senate bill in seeking to renew the ABS-CBN franchise, we will never forget Duterte and his 70 cohorts in Congress who have chosen to deprive the Filipino people and journalists of their right to speech and access to information. We continue to hold them accountable,” she added.
However, it is insulting that Sen. Sotto cited mediocrity and loss of competition among media as reasons for filing the bill instead of emphasizing the importance of press freedom and how the denial of the franchise serves as the biggest blow to press freedom. This manifests that press freedom is not taken seriously by lawmakers like Sotto. Moreover, the alliance of campus press warns politicians to not use the issue of ABS-CBN franchise renewal for their own political agenda as we are nearing the 2022 elections.
These underhanded tactics of Duterte and his cohorts are a two-pronged attack, as people are now left in an information vacuum and susceptible to disinformation. “The Guild and the Filipino people stand resolute in affirming the necessity of ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal,” Tolentino ended.