After a series of hearings that was painful to watch because of ridiculous grandstanding and absurd lines of questioning, 70 members of the the House of Representatives Committee on Legislative Franchise voted against the renewal of the ABS-CBN franchise.
Were people surprised? Not really. But were they outraged? Yes.
On this page are official statements from schools, student publications, organizations and faculty members about the Congress decision to shut down ABS-CBN. These expressions of indignation are just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many more out there.
Because our politicians, who seem to have forgotten who they’re supposed to be serving, need some serious schooling.
‘Unabashed display of servility’
We, the undersigned communication and journalism educators, in our personal and professional capacities, express our collective indignation and outrage over the decision of a committee of the House of Representatives to kill ABS-CBN’s application for a legislative franchise.
The July 10 vote by the rubber-stamp committee can only be described as an unabashed display of servility to the Duterte regime and its enablers, and a brazen exercise of political power.
The marathon committee hearings, which were intended to give the eventual decision a veneer of authority and legitimacy, have actually accomplished the exact opposite.
Instead of hearing all stakeholders, the committee members regurgitated arguments already debunked by competent government agencies such as the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Bureau of Immigration, the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Department of Justice. They also bullied ABS-CBN officials in attendance.
Worse, the 12th hearing became an orgy of personal and petty gripes of onion-skinned politicians against ABS-CBN. Congressmen even exceeded their ambit and proclaimed themselves arbiters of good journalism and broadcast practices, exposing their ignorance and media illiteracy.
Their shameless conduct during the ABS-CBN hearings delegitimizes the committee vote.
We commend the 11 lawmakers who voted in favor of a franchise for ABS-CBN and for standing up to the 70 who toed the partisan line, betrayed the people they claim to represent, and allowed House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano to deliver on President Duterte’s repeated threats to put the TV network out of business. The two lawmakers who inhibited and the lone abstention did no better; their fence-sitting was as much a betrayal, only thinly veiled.
We fear for the exercise of the free speech and freedom of the press when the country’s largest media network could be shut down on the whims of a powerful few. Filipinos have been deprived of an important source of news, information and entertainment by a regime that prefers only praises and propaganda.
We express solidarity with the 11,000 workers whose livelihoods have been jeopardized by the network’s shutdown, and related industries bound to be affected by ABS-CBN’s absence from the media market.
This is the second time for ABS-CBN to be shut down by enemies of freedom. After a hiatus imposed by Martial Law, it roared back to life after the 1986 People Power revolt and the restoration of democracy.
We eagerly await ABS-CBN’s return to the airwaves and along with it, the return of our freedoms. –University of Santo Tomas Department of Communication and Media Studies
‘Congress chose their interests’
Despite the loud, continuous call of the people to preserve and fortify press freedom as a pillar of democracy, the Congress chose their interests over the rights of more than 11,000 workers of the company, and of the millions of Filipinos who rely on ABS-CBN.
In the midst of a pandemic, where healthcare measures and initiatives such as mass testing should have been prioritized, the lawmakers blatantly attack the freedom of the press through rejecting ABS-CBN’s franchise application.
The student body remains resolute in its calls toward the preservation of press freedom and labor rights. With this, we continue to stand in solidarity with everyone under the corporation to stay vigilant and never be silent.
In light of the situation, we are demanding the Congress to rebuke the earlier pronouncement of the legislative body, prohibiting ABS-CBN from renewing its franchise. – Polytechnic University of the Philippines College of Communication (PUP-COC) Student Council
‘Attack on press freedom’
Hi-Lites condemns this evident and imminent attack on press freedom by the government to stifle the vital role of the press.
More than ever, we will continue reporting and upholding the truth. In the service of the Filipino, we will hold the line. – Hi-Lites, official student publication of Ateneo de Manila Senior High School
‘Obvious manifestation of personal attacks’
FEU Advocate stands with all civil watchdogs in denouncing the ruling to deny ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal last Friday.
The decision of 70 committee members will plunge more than 11,000 employees and other service providers into facing another threat on their livelihood amid a global health crisis, including millions of Filipinos in rural areas who will be deprived of credible information.
Following the verdict, the 13 conducted House hearings were an obvious manifestation of personal attacks not only against the media giant but towards Fourth Estate, the vanguards of truth who remain critical and watchful in reporting.
We appeal to our legislators and all public officials to uphold their constitutional duty of representing the voice and concerns of the people who they serve, especially since the welfare of their constituents is at great risk in these trying times.
Above all, the people’s interest must always prevail and critical outcries of the masses must be heard at all times. – Far Eastern University (FEU) Advocate
‘Invaluable service to the nation’
The University of Santo Tomas expresses its support for ABS-CBN…We believe that ABS-CBN deserves to be given another chance to renew its franchise to continue its invaluable service to the nation and the Filipino people.
We believe that access to information and genuine public service, which ABS-CBN competently provides, are of paramount importance during these very challenging times. We sympathize with the network’s thousands of employees who stand to lose their jobs and whose families will be deeply affected by this sad turn of events. We offer our most heartfelt prayers to ABS-CBN during this difficult time. – University of Santo Tomas
‘Huge disservice to the people’
The Work strongly condemns the decision of the House Committee on Legislative Franchises denying the bill granting the ABS-CBN network a fresh 25-year franchise.
The publication perceives this move as a huge disservice to the people who have the right to know and to be informed.
The Duterte regime is cunningly succeeding with its looming tyrannical rule to control what the people should know by shutting down a media giant in the country.
Guided by its moral compass to serve the people, The Work enjoins student publications of TSU, our alumni, the student body, and the Filipino people in our fight for genuine press freedom. Together with the concerted voices of enraged citizens, we stand in solidarity with the ABS-CBN network and its workers.
The shutdown of the media can never silence the collective voices of the masses. We need to fight back! We will continue to hold the line! – The Work, Tarlac State University
‘Betrayal of lawmakers’
July 10 marked the betrayal of lawmakers in representing the interests and calls of the public by denying the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise.
Amidst the public health crisis now, the House of Representatives chose to shut down the giant TV network without considering the welfare of more than 11,000 employees who have lost their jobs, and access to news and information of the millions of FIlipinos depending on the media network.
We, the PUP Journalism Guild, believe that shutting down a media network, enacting the Anti-Terror Law, and silencing journalists and critics alike are not appropriate actions the government has to make in these trying times. More than ever, the fourth estate will stand firm in its commitment to keep the people awake by seeking the government’s accountability and responsibility in this time of crisis.
The battle is far from over. The Guild urges everyone to seek valid explanations from their respective congressman on why and how they came up with such decision.
We stand with ABS-CBN and with the right for free press. We will never be silenced. – Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) Journalism Guild
‘Attempt to silence responsible journalism’
During a time when information is extremely necessary given the pandemic, the shutdown of the Philippines’ largest broadcasting company is an integrally wrong move toward the Filipino people. The Philippine government’s attempt to silence responsible journalism.
Animo Model United Nations Manila firmly stands with ABS-CBN against the rejection of the franchise renewal, suppressing the basic right to information and freedom of speech. Given the network’s broad range of viewers, many Filipinos, especially those in far and secluded areas will be deprived of information regarding the country’s current state, including the warnings and news affecting them.
As a diplomatic organization that believes and promotes the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, primarily Article 19: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers,” AniMUN strongly commits itself to fighting the silencing of the network whose integrity has been proven over the years in sharing the truth and providing quality service to the nation.
AniMUN calls on the Filipino and the global community to be in solidarity with ABS-CBN in defense of human rights and press freedom. We acknowledge ABS-CBN’s commitment to serve the country by shaping its citizens to be enlightened media consumers and active critical thinkers toward pressing global and social issues. With all the issues happening during the pandemic, it is very important to stand in unity and not allow an unjust system to silence voices, take away the basic rights of man, and learn to be careful yet critical for good governance.
The fight is not yet over. We encourage the Filipino people to speak up and let your voice be heard. –Animo Model United Nations, De La Salle University
‘An era of silence imposed by a controlling regime’
The Lathe Group of Publications, the official student publication of Batangas State University, vehemently condemns the House of Representatives Committee on Legislative Franchise’s denial of ABS-CBN’s application for renewal of its broadcast franchise. Such proceeding is a manifestation of an era of silence imposed by a controlling regime. In times of silence, we urge media outlets to be vigilant, composed, and alert for the upcoming barrage of attacks on press freedom.
The people’s access to information and entertainment is of utmost importance now more than ever. In these uncertain times, media organizations serve as the key informant of the public on the dangers of COVID-19 and the government’s response in fighting this health crisis. Furthermore, we stress that the ABS-CBN’s franchise delivers vital information to the Batangueños through its regional arm, TV Patrol Southern Tagalog. Losing this broadcast is an outright cut to the available source of news and current affairs in the urban and rural areas of Calabzarzon.
The publication addresses it for what it is—a blatant assault on press freedom and the fourth estate of the Philippines. Such tirades can only push us, journalists, to further hold the line and protect our right to free speech. We shall never falter, we shall continue to #DefendPressFreedom. – The Lathe Group of Publications
‘What is true and just’
The role of the press does not attempt to satisfy those who are seated in higher positions, but rather deliver what is true and just for the people.
The publication calls on every citizen to condemn any form of attack that seeks to oppress our rights because we, The Adamson Chronicle, believe that the rule of law and press freedom is the foundation of a progressive and democratic country. – The Adamson Chronicle
This blatant deed of stifling press freedom has forged even graver consequences to our democracy. Press freedom, one of the hallmarks on which our democracy stands, has been continuously challenged by hypocritical politicians at the peak of a global pandemic. Suppressing press freedom is an evident reflection of an attempt to rob the common people of their right to free speech and information.
The Filipino people, through this striking blow to our democracy, has witnessed the growing tyranny of this administration; from an administration that promised to make the lives of every Filipino family better to an administration that constrained the common people of their access to reliable news information in order to satisfy their personal vendettas.
We stand in unity with the 11,000 workers and their families.
We will not be silenced. This is just the beginning of a long reckoning ahead. – University of Santo Tomas Senior High School HUMSS Society
‘1972 all over again’
It’s becoming 1972 all over again, and the non-renewal of the ABS-CBN franchise should serve as a warning of what is about to happen next. – Student journalists of Pampanga High School
At a time when the enemy of the people is supposed to be the pandemic, the Duterte regime took advantage of democracy’s vulnerable state to harness more power in favor of their personal interests.
We condemn Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa for downplaying the thousands of livelihoods that are now lost, House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano for branding the network’s case as “hiding under the pretense of press freedom,” and these so-called leaders and citizens who threaten and violate the press.
This administration is clearly the democracy’s adversary hiding under the pretense of a press freedom advocate.
Those in power will reach their peak, only to be brought down by their own blunders.
The Filipino people will rise again, and ABS-CBN will return, just as they all did during martial law. – TomasinoWeb
‘Our collective voices should be our weapon’
Our collective voices should be our weapon against the attacks to our democracy and right for truth; thus, the true power lies in our hands. We have the power to fight, we can shed light, and we can prevent the further economic blow and repressive darkness. – PUP Campus Journalists
‘Duty beyond the classroom’
In a climate of what appears to be unrestrained government power and arbitrariness, we, the concerned faculty members of the Adamson University College of Law, strongly call on the members of the Congress to respect the rule of law and the freedom of the press. After all, “ours is a government of laws, not of men.”
As educators and advocates of law, our duty to the profession demands us to speak against this erosion of press freedom and the rule of law.
As educators and advocates of law, our duty to our students demands us to show up beyond the confines of the classrooms, and remind them of the value of courage and engagement in public dialogue and in nation-building.
As educators and advocates of law, our duty to the people demands us to condemn any form of attack that seeks to oppress or abuse them.
We, as educators and advocates of law, choose to place our voice, both individually and collectively, on the side of history, and we call on every citizen to do the same.
Resist. Speak. Persist. – Faculty members of the Adamson University College of Law
‘Gov’t priorities are anti-poor, anti-people’
We, the concerned faculty of the UP Mindanao Department of Humanities, condemn in the strongest possible terms the rejection of the renewal of the ABS-CBN franchise bid.
July 10, 2020 will be remembered in history as a dark day for press freedom as it was once again crippled by the self-serving interests of those who are in power.
This, along with the passing of the Anti-Terror Bill, are clear manifestations of how the current administration prioritizes silencing of its critics over coming up with real-time solutions to address the needs of the people who are struggling with the dangers posed by the current pandemic.
We empathize with the 11,000 workers of ABS-CBN who are now facing unemployment and are left to fend for themselves amid the present health crisis. Instead of coming up with policies to resolve the current pandemic scourging our country, this turn of events shows that the priorities of the government are nothing but anti-poor and anti-people.
History has shown that only fascist governments silence a critical press. We place our hopes on the people to hold the government accountable over these tyrannical actions and to continue to speak truth to power. –University of the Philippines (UP) Mindanao Department of Humanities Faculty
‘Arrogance and misuse of power’
The Malacañang lackeys at the House of Representatives have just committed murder. We, the members of the UST Journalism Society, strongly condemn this dastardly crime against press freedom.
To satisfy their personal vendetta and to remain in the good graces of their overlord, 70 lawmakers killed the ABS-CBN franchise bill, depriving Filipinos of access to a credible source of news and information. They also destroyed the job security of the network’s 11,000 workers at a time when incomes are lost due to a pandemic that this administration is struggling to contain.
The 12 hearings on the network’s franchise proved that these lawmakers were not after the truth. Their inane questions, disrespectful treatment of resource persons, circuitous statements and petty arguments—one of them even complained that ABS-CBN did not give airtime to his rice distribution activity—unmask their insidious agenda. They want to humiliate, malign, and shutter the network that President Duterte wanted “out” of the airwaves. Today, they delivered the coup de grace.
The sinister forces that conspired to shut down ABS-CBN must be celebrating while the network’s workers are worrying about their future.
The murder of ABS-CBN’s franchise is the latest in the growing list of acts committed under this administration that brought a chilling effect to journalists. This arrogance and misuse of power delivered yet another blow to press freedom, which is already being battered by a draconian cyberlibel law, troll armies, media killings, and the indifference and skewed priorities of some journalists.
July 10, 2020 will surely go down in history as one of the darkest days of the Philippine press.
We stand with the 11,000 workers of ABS-CBN whose sources of livelihood, careers, and dreams are at risk because of panderers, power-trippers, and bruised egos.
We call on the public to defend an independent press that holds power to account.
This murder signals dark days ahead for the independent and critical media but we should not be intimidated. Nobody stays in power forever. Their time for reckoning will come.
Maniningil ang kasaysayan. – UST Journalism Society