Kapamilya artists, employees and supporters light candles in front of the network's main office in Quezon City following the denial of the House of Representatives on the 25-year franchise renewal of the network on Friday.
The STAR/Miguel de Guzman
Groups march to CHR to protest ABS-CBN franchise denial, looming anti-terror law
Ratziel San Juan (Philstar.com) - July 11, 2020 - 12:00pm

MANILA, Philippines — Hundreds of individuals and members of multi-sectoral groups on Saturday morning trooped to the University of the Philippines Diliman campus before marching to the Commission on Human Rights to protest the enactment of the contentious Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 and the rejection of broadcast giant ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal.

The program at CHR organized by the Movement Against Tyranny and the Concerned Lawyers for Civil Liberties saw attendees denouncing the impending anti-terror law and the Friday denial of legislation to renew the franchise of ABS-CBN in spite of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Related: House panel denies ABS-CBN franchise

The commission has since issued a statement on the latest blow against the media network.

“It is with concern that the [CHR] notes the denial of the franchise of ABS-CBN, the biggest broadcasting media outlet in the country. CHR continues to stress the importance of timely, credible information in pushing everyone towards the correct direction in responding especially to a pandemic. The loss of a major network has inevitably left millions of Filipinos in the dark, especially those in far-flung areas with no access to the internet as an alternative.”

It expressed concern on thousands of the network’s employees who are set to lose their jobs and contribute to worsening unemployment figures owing to the coronavirus crisis.

“Unless Congress can disabuse the minds of the public that its decision was not based on a fair review and was devoid of any political consideration, the denial of the franchise, gives a chilling effect on the freedom of the press,” CHR said in its statement.

“In the end, allegations of violations should have been dealt in accordance with existing laws. And the same standard that was used for ABS-CBN should have been consistent with the rest of the franchise applications. Otherwise, this puts in question the rule of law fundamental in protecting rights and instead shows a rule by law—devoid of fairness and justice.”

Malacañang earlier said that appeals to renew the franchise of ABS-CBN should be directed to Congress as it reiterated that President Rodrigo Duterte remains "neutral" on the issue.

"The position of the president is he is neutral when it comes to ABS-CBN. They apologized and he has forgiven them. He is neutral, vote according to your conscience," presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said.

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