MANILA - A House panel's denial of ABS-CBN's bid for a new broadcast franchise has a chilling effect that might influence media reporting, Vice President Leni Robredo said Friday, as she reminded the public to choose leaders who uphold their ideals and beliefs.
"Malawak ang implikasyon ng desisyong ito. Mayroon itong chilling effect: Hindi kalabisang isipin na maaaring magbabago ang editorial choices ng ibang pahayagan gawa ng panggigipit na ginawa sa ABS-CBN," Robredo said.
(This decision has wide implications. This has a chilling effect: it's not excessive to think that editorial choices of other news organizations might change because of the repression of ABS-CBN.)
In a statement, Robredo, the leader of the opposition, said government had been expected to respect freedom of the press, but that it seemed the reverse was happening, with the recent conviction of news website Rappler CEO Maria Ressa, the signing of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, and the ABS-CBN shutdown.
"Ang mensahe: Kapag hindi tayo sumang-ayon nang buong-buo sa kanila, kalaban nila tayong ituturing," Robredo said.
(The message: If we do not fully agree with them, we are treated as enemies.)
Robredo, the leader of the opposition, also cited how the decision of the House Committee on Legislative Franchises, which rejected the ABS-CBN license bid in a 70-11 vote, endangers the network's over 11,000 employees and their families at a critical time of a pandemic.
"Inaalisan nito ng kabuhayan ang libu-libong nasa empleyo ng network, bukod pa ang mga contractual, at ang iba pang mga industriyang nakasalalay sa mga proyekto ng network. Inaampat nito ang daloy ng wasto at napapanahong impormasyon.
(This takes away the livelihood of thousands of workers under the network's employ, besides the contractual ones, and other industries that rely on the network's projects. This curtails the proper flow of timely information.)
She lamented Congress' direction at a time when the country continues to be gripped by the COVID-19 pandemic, when information is crucial.
"Ang hirap tanggapin na lahat ng ito ay nangyayari habang lahat tayo'y nakikipagbuno pa rin sa hirap at pangambang dulot ng COVID-19. Solusyon sa pandemya, sa pagkawala ng trabaho, at sa gutom ang hinihiling ng Pilipino. Pero pananakot, pagbawi ng kalayaan, at dagdag na panggigipit ang pilit sa ating ihinahain.
(It's hard to accept that this is happening while we're fighting hardships and fears brought by COVID-19. Filipinos are asking for a solution to the pandemic, loss of livelihood and hunger. But they are giving us terror, seizing our freedoms and repressing us even more.)
The killing of ABS-CBN's franchise highlights a lesson, said Robredo: "Our choice of leaders matters."
"Mahalagang pumili ng mga pinunong tunay sa sumasalamin sa ating mga adhikain at prinsipyo. Kaya’t tandaan natin ang mga pangalan ng kongresista at opisyal na tumaliwas sa ating mga paniniwala upang mapanagot sila gamit ang mga prosesong pangdemokrasya; tandaan din natin ang mga kahanay natin, upang maisulong at bigyang-lakas pa ang mga tulad nila," she said.
(It is important to choose leaders who reflect our aspirations and principles. So we should remember the names of lawmakers and officials who go against our beliefs and they should be held accountable through democratic processes. Remember those among our ranks so we could push forward and strengthen the likes of them.)
She also called on the people to keep the faith, unite and resist.
"Bawat pahayag, bawat pagkilos ngayon ay may ambag sa mahabang proseso upang maabot ang lipunang tunay na malaya at makatao," she said.
(Every statement, every action contributes to a long process towards achieving a society that is truly free and humane.)