Filipino Freethinkers condemns the decision to deny ABS-CBN the renewal of its broadcast franchise. In the Philippines today, millions still rely on radio and TV to get their news. We are in the middle of a pandemic, and the president has removed one of the few reliable beacons of information we depend on.
Those in Congress who voted in favor of this denial have little to say to defend themselves. We need to let them know that trampling on free speech, freedom of information, and any of our human rights, is unacceptable, a blatant failure for our representatives who ideally uphold democratic principles — not to mention the principle of separation of powers. Our elected representatives answer to us. Outcomes such as this make it seem they’re merely there to rubber-stamp whatever the president dictates to them.
The last time ABS-CBN was taken off the air was during the dark times of the Marcos dictatorship. Its return after People Power heralded the return of democracy, the return to the side of light. July 10, 2020 is a dark day in our history.
We said “Never Again” to dictatorship, and yet here we are. Carlos Celdran was convicted for offending religious feelings. Maria Ressa has been convicted for making sure Rappler printed corrections. And in less than a week, the “Anti-terror” bill comes into effect making it harder for the rest of us to speak out.
So what can we do? Now more than ever, it is in our best interest to remain vigilant, stay informed, and when the time comes, vote. Raise awareness, educate others, have difficult conversations — make noise. It is going to get harder; it is going to take initiative; it is going to take some time. But as one by one the brave lights are snuffed out, it is our duty to keep the spark going. We can help #holdtheline and #defendpressfreedom.