MANILA - Journalists on Friday rallied behind ABS-CBN Corp. urging Congress to “repudiate” President Rodrigo Duterte’s “vindictive assault” and extend the media company’s franchise, which is set to expire at the end of March this year.
Duterte has repeatedly said he would object to ABS-CBN's franchise renewal.
The Manila Times, citing “unimpeachable sources” in the judiciary, also reported that Solicitor General Jose Calida was set to ask the Supreme Court to revoke ABS-CBN’s existing franchise.
A number of National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) members gathered near the ABS-CBN office in Quezon City, Friday evening in support of the media network.
The group demanded Congress to “prove itself as an independent and co-equal branch by repudiating Duterte's vindictive assault on ABS-CBN and passing the bill to renew its franchise.”
The NUJP described the threats against ABS-CBN as part of a bigger effort by the administration to “suppress critical media.”
Aside from ABS-CBN, news website Rappler and the Philippine Daily Inquirer have been repeatedly attacked by the president and his supporters because of unfavorable reports.
Duterte, in a televised address last December 30, said owners of ABS-CBN should just sell the network.
A House committee headed by Rep. Franz Alvarez has yet to act on 8 bills seeking another 25-year franchise for the network, which was also shut down during the Marcos dictatorship.
Lawmakers have only 24 regular session days to act on the proposals after returning to work on Jan. 20.
Eleven House members earlier filed a resolution in support of ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal, which has been in limbo since the president began repeated tirades against it over a political ad that was not aired in 2016.
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman had said Duterte should air his “personal grievances” against the network with the “proper judicial or administrative forum... instead of imposing an extrajudicial killing of the freedom of the press.”
ABS-CBN operates free TV Channel 2 and Radio DZMM.
news.abs-cbn.com is the official news website of ABS-CBN.