A MEDIA expert has warned that shutting down the Philippines’s largest media network would be a move toward dictatorship.

Prof. David Robie, head of the New Zealand-based Pacific Media Center and journalism professor at the Auckland University of Technology, said President Rodrigo Duterte’s displeasure toward ABS-CBN Corp. was not enough reason to deprive it of a franchise.

“There’s no justification in doing that (not renewing the franchise of ABS-CBN). Doing that is moving towards dictatorship,” Robie said in a forum last Dec. 4.

Duterte has vowed to block the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise, which is pending in Congress. The president claims ABS-CBN swindled him during the 2016 campaign when the Lopez-led television network did not air his political ad.

The ad was in response to a 30-second spot paid for by then senator Antonio Trillanes IV, showing children reacting to the ex-Davao City mayor’s profanity-laden speeches.

“Your franchise will end next year. If you expect it to be renewed, I’m sorry. I will see to it that you’re out,” Duterte said in remarks at Malacañan Palace last Dec. 3.

Congress has yet to act on the renewal of ABS-CBN’s 25-year broadcasting franchise, which will expire in March 2020.

Robie, who talked about human rights and press freedom violation in the Indonesian province of West Papua, said it was “open season against journalists.

He also recalled the Ampatuan massacre that killed 58 people, including journalists, which marked its 10th anniversary in November.

“What you experience in the Philippines is replicated around the world,” Robie said.

“We have many leaders around the world…who are basically, constantly attacking and degrading the media,” he added. 


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