‘Assassins of Philippine democracy’: Philippine PEN condemns 70 lawmakers who rejected ABS-CBN franchise

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The Philippine Center of International PEN (Playwrights, Essayists, Novelists) condemned the 70 lawmakers who voted against ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal, calling them “assassins of Philippine democracy.”

In a statement last July 11, the writers’ group said the denial of the franchise was “a lethal blow to freedom of the press and freedom of expression–and to Philippine democracy.”

(Photo courtesy of Philippine Center of International PEN.)

The Philippine PEN said ABS-CBN did nothing illegal, and the Duterte-allied lawmakers’ opposition to the franchise was “personal, petty, partisan, and ultimately, self-seeking.”

“They (House Committee on Legislative Franchise) would go through the motions of a democratic vote in order to bully and bludgeon to death a media network and a press institution that has historically embodied, warts and all, the vibrancy of Philippine democracy,” it said.

The franchise and the good government and accountability committees held a dozen hearings on the bill, after which House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano called for a “conscience vote.”

Only 11 lawmakers voted to grant ABS-CBN a franchise.

During the hearings, officials of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Department of Labor of Employment, and Bureau of Internal Revenue Service said the broadcast network did not commit violations of corporate, labor and tax laws.

ABS-CBN was shuttered on May 5, a day after its 25-year franchise expired.

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