STUDENTS and educators issued statements expressing their dissent over a House committee’s decision to deny ABS-CBN’s bid for a franchise renewal.

Faculty members from the Department of Communication and Media Studies on Saturday said: “Filipinos have been deprived of an important source of news, information and entertainment by a regime that prefers only praises and propaganda.”

“The 12th hearing became an orgy of personal and petty gripes of onion-skinned politicians against ABS-CBN,” read the statement, signed by 20 faculty members.

“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,” the statement read.

The UST Journalism Society on Saturday called the decision a “dastardly crime against press freedom.”

“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,” the statement read.

The Arts and Letters Student Council also condemned the lawmakers’ decision.

“President Duterte and his cronies in Congress did not only deprive us of our right to a free press but also displaced at least 11,000 media workers amid the country’s worst public health and economic crisis,” it said in a statement issued on Friday.

“It is deplorable how at a time when the free press plays a crucial role in reliably informing the public about the Covid-19 pandemic, the Duterte regime has again proven itself as an enemy of democracy by denying the franchise application of ABS-CBN,” the statement read.

The University’s theater guild, Teatro Tomasino, said in a statement the decision was not only a blatant attack to press freedom, but also  “towards the right of the people to information.”

Mediartrix, a multimedia student organization, also said that the government should have prioritized the ongoing pandemic instead of killing the franchise.

On Friday, in a 70-11 vote, the House Committee on legislative franchises adopted the recommendation of a technical working group to kill the bills seeking to grant the network a new franchise.

On May 5, The National Telecommunications Commission ordered ABS-CBN to stop operations after the expiry of its legislative franchise. ABS-CBN signed off at 7:52 p.m. on the same day, the second time for the network to shut down since the Marcos regime.


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