Statement of Concern re ABS-CBN Franchise Renewal Woes
The EcoWaste Coalition, a non-profit environmental health organization, is gravely alarmed by the mounting danger of ABS-CBN losing its congressional franchise, which is set to expire on 30 March 2020.
Grossly upset by the quo warranto petition filed by the Office of the Solicitor General asking the Supreme Court to forfeit the franchise of the media institution, the EcoWaste Coalition appeals to the House Committee on Legislative Franchises, which has jurisdiction on “all matters directly and principally relating to the grant, amendment, extension or revocation of franchises,” to convene itself and speedily consider bills seeking to renew the franchise of the media network.
As an advocate for the public’s right to know, we consider the moves to shut down ABS-CBN as a severe blow to the freedom of speech and of the press and contrary to the state policy that “recognizes the vital role of communication and information in nation-building.” A free press is essential to the pursuit of the peoples constitutionally-guaranteed rights to health and to a balanced and healthful ecology, to participate in decision-making and the full respect of human rights.
As shutting down ABS-CBN will leave a huge void in environmental education and advocacy, noting the network’s programs and projects in defense of the environment and in support of disadvantaged communities, we urge members of Congress to cross party lines, and work double-time to uphold due process and to ensure that its power to grant, amend, extend or revoke franchises is duly respected and not by-passed or usurped by other government instrumentalities.
For the sake of a free press, for the sake of environmental protection and public service, and for the sake of the thousands of workers employed by the network and its subsidiaries, we urge both the House of Representatives and the Senate not to fail in exercising their duty to prevent the non-renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise, a tragic debacle that will deeply divide and sadden our nation.