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NUJP: 18th Congress 'an enemy of democracy' after panel junked ABS-CBN franchise

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) on Friday said  that the 18th Congress "declared itself enemy of democracy."

NUJP made the remark in a statement after the House Committee on Legislative Franchises voted to dismiss the franchise application of network giant ABS-CBN.

"Today, this chamber has lost all claim to represent the people and our interests... But let us not mark July 10, 2020 as a day of defeat and mourning," NUJP said.

"Let us prove that it is not the 'will of Congress' but the will of the people that ultimately prevails," it added.

The NUJP said 11,000 people lost their jobs and millions of Filipinos have been deprived of their right to know and to choose how to access information and entertainment.

AlterMidya, a network of more than 30 independent media outfits, said ABS-CBN is "being punished for reporting and commenting on issues in a manner unacceptable to the Duterte administration."

The group said the franchise denial is also a warning that if the administration could shut down the broadcast giant, "every journalist should think twice before it reports truthfully, or criticizes and dares hold government to account."

"All these are a blow to the people’s right to information. And a public denied of its right to know is a copious climate for tyranny and impunity," AlterMidya said.

ABS-CBN's previous franchise expired last May 4.

The following day, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) ordered the network to stop operating several of its radio and television stations.

ABS-CBN is challenging the NTC's cease and desist order before the Supreme Court. 

After several committee hearings, the House panel voted to adopt the technical working group resolution denying the franchise application of ABS-CBN.

Defense Corps of the Philippines

In a separate statement, said the House of Representatives did a "disservice" to the people with the denial of franchise application of ABS-CBN.

"We, the members of the Defense Corps of the Philippines, denounce the denial by the House of Representatives of a 25-year franchise to ABS-CBN based solely on personal antipathy towards the network," the DCP said in a statement.

"In our view the House of Representatives has done a disservice to their constituents and the entire nation, placing their own sentiments above the Filipinos' constitutionally-guaranteed right to information and allowing themselves to be used in muzzling the free press from speaking often unpalatable truths," it added.

The group, which covers the Defense department, the military and police said a free press is a necessity in any democracy and those seeking to silence the "truth tellers" are complicit in "letting tyranny reign."

The press corps added the fourth estate has always worked to give those disadvantaged a voice that the "powerful" have ignored or shut out.

"In denying ABS-CBN's franchise, the lower house of Congress resembles a house of minions and not of true representatives of the people," it said. —NB/LDF, GMA News