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Youth slams denial of franchise to ABS-CBN which provides info and entertainment service to Filipinos, defends press freedom against Duterte and his terror law

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Kabataan Partylist slams Congress’ denial of legislative franchise to ABS-CBN with a vote of 70-11-2-1, and House Committee on Legislative Franchise’ recommendation to deny ABS-CBN their franchise; the youth stands with ABS-CBN, a massive information and entertainment service provider to millions of Filipinos, today, the voting day for ABS-CBN Corp.’s legislative franchise, in defense of press freedom against Duterte and his terror law.

ABS-CBN shutdown is a political demolition job against a leading network. Government agencies have already cleared the network, and other expired franchises are allowed to operate; with this, Duterte and his minions in Congress clearly don’t care about the facts and the law. Duterte’s cohorts malign ABS-CBN through lies and abuse of power which just reveals their mortal fear: a free press, thus, wannabe dictator Duterte tries to wield power from silencing a broadcasting network and from sending shockwaves across media.

“Sa gitna ng krisis ng pandemya, tumitindi ang atake sa karapatan dagdag sa patong-patong na suliranin ng mamamayan sa kalusugan, trabaho at kabuhayan. Ang karapatan na mabatid ang tunay na kalagayan ng sambayanan ay ipinagkakait sa panggigipit sa malaya at kritikal na pamamahayag. Pinapatahimik ang midya sa panahon na ang balita at impormasyon ay kailangan ngayon higit kailanman sa paglaban sa sakit, gutom at kahirapan. Imbes na bigyang prayoridad ang pagpapalakas ng sistemang pangkalusugan at ayuda sa mga maralita at nawalan ng kita, dinagdagan pa ang kawalan ng trabaho at banta sa seguridad ng kabuhayan ng nasa 11,000 manggagawa sa pagpapasara sa ABS-CBN, TV Plus at Sky Direct,” said Rep. Sarah Elago of the youth party.

After 12 Congress hearings, it has been found that ABS-CBN has complied with the provisions and requirements of its previous franchise (Republic Act 7966) and deserves a renewal or new 25-year franchise that will enable it to continue its broadcasting service to 19 million Filipino households out of 21 million nationwide and over 3M Filipinos overseas (70 million Filipinos tune in to their programs weekly), especially in this time of a pandemic where news and information dissemination, even entertainment, is as critical as a need.

Here are some of the 10 proven facts related to ABS-CBN franchise during the hearings:

1. The 1987 Constitution allows companies that have been operating for more than 50 years to apply for franchise renewal. Each franchise given at a time may not exceed 50 years.

2. The return of ABS-CBN broadcast facilities to its rightful owners, the Lopez family, after the EDSA Revolution was approved by the Presidential Commission on Good Government, the Office of the President, and the Supreme Court.

3. ABS-CBN chairman emeritus Eugenio “Gabby” Lopez III is a natural-born Filipino and has the right to own or manage mass media in the Philippines.

4. The Philippine Deposit Receipts (PDRs) offered by ABS-CBN Holdings Inc. were approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission and do not grant ownership of ABS-CBN to its holders.

5. ABS-CBN’s offering of TVplus follows the government’s mandate to shift to digital TV broadcasting, enabling all TV networks to offer multiple channels. No law prohibits the multi-channel format and pay-per-view offerings of ABS-CBN TVplus.

6. ABS-CBN has created 11,071 job opportunities and has taken steps to comply with labor standards after initial findings of some violations. It is open to reform industry practices for the benefit of its workers.

7. ABS-CBN pays proper taxes. It has paid P71.5 billion in taxes in 17 years. The Philippine Economic Zone Authority said ABS-CBN did not use Big Dipper as a tax shield, and the Bureau of Internal Revenues said that ABS-CBN has been paying the right taxes.

8. ABS-CBN News observes the highest professional and ethical standards in journalism and holds itself and its people accountable for any mistake committed in the performance of its duties.

9. ABS-CBN adheres to the Fair Elections Act and the Broadcast Code of the Philippines.

10.ABS-CBN has championed public interest with a business focused on serving Filipinos all over the world through news, entertainment, and public service.

“The fault-finding against ABS-CBN has gone too far, leaving more jobs lost and millions of Filipinos without access to news and entertainment. Amid the pandemic when firms are closing and downsizing with millions of displaced workers, and unemployment is at an all-time high, the government must focus instead on supporting local enterprises and preserving jobs,” Elago added.

ABS-CBN shutdown is not even about workers’ rights–contrary to what they are trying to project–most especially when it is Duterte and Congress that continue to allow laws on contractualization, grossly neglect workers as starkly seen in this pandemic, and create jobs dismally.

“Suporta at tulong sa mga nangangailangan, hindi pagtapak sa karapatan. Maging ang batas tulad ng Bayanihan to Heal as One na hakbang para labanan ang COVID-19 ay ginamit para sikilin ang karapatan sa pananalita at pagpapahayag, paano pa kaya kapag naipasa na ang bagong anti-terror bill? Pinirmahan na ni Pangulong Duterte ang Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020. Mula sa madugong drug war, pagkapaslang kay Col. Ragos hanggang sa iligal na mga pag-aresto at ang Sulu misencounter na ikinasawi ng apat na sundalo, mayroon ng malawakan na paglabag sa karapatang pantao at kawalang kaparusahan at ang mga dapat nagpapanatili ng kaayusan ang sila pang nagiging pwersa ng terror. Kasabay ng ating pagsusulong ng pananagutan at hustisya, panawagan ng Kabataan: Junk Terror Law Now!,” Elago ended.

Now that the “Anti-Terrorism” Act of 2020 already has President’s signature, we must raise our voices now more than ever, and call for its junking as it further threatens press freedom! Unite to defend the media from attacks on its independence, and stand up for human rights, fundamental freedoms, and democracy!###

#YesToABSFranchise
#DefendPressFreedom

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