The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines greets with cautious optimism the filing by Senate President Vicente Sotto III of a bill seeking to grant ABS-CBN a fresh franchise that would bring back the network on air.
We likewise welcome the news that House Deputy Speaker Vilma Santos will refile her bill granting the network a new franchise.
We hope these moves, even if late and even if prompted by political expediency, prod lawmakers in both chambers, but most especially the House of Representatives, to correct the grave wrong they wrought by, first, letting their inaction on franchise renewal bills lead to ABS-CBN’s shutdown and, second, by letting the committee on congressional franchises reject a new franchise for the network, in obedience to a vindictive president.
At the same time, we call on the independent Philippine media community, including the owners and managements, to truly come together and, with a united voice, demand that Congress do right by allowing ABS-CBN to fill the yawning gap in the delivery of news, information and entertainment it left when it went dark in May last year.
Let us send a very powerful message to both the government and, most importantly, the Filipino people, of our commitment to freedom of the press and of expression, and to the people’s right to know.