Cayetano slams EU parliament over Ressa, ABS-CBN resolutionBy JOAHNA LEI CASILAO,GMA News
House Speaker Alan Cayetano on Saturday slammed the European Parliament for its "outright interference" in Philippine affairs, claiming that it criticized the Philippine Government without first asking questions or ascertaining facts.
“The Philippine House of Representatives takes exception to the outright interference of the European Parliament in the purely domestic matters of the Philippines by dictating on the government ‘to renew the broadcast license’ of ABS-CBN and to ‘drop’ the cyberlibel charges against Maria Ressa,” Cayetano said in a Facebook post.
The Speaker added that the members of the House would have welcomed their colleagues from the European Union had they “sought a dialogue to discuss candidly the purported issues.”
“We thus take offense that the EU Parliament criticized the Philippine Government first before asking questions, and prior to ascertaining the facts,” he said.
An EU Parliament resolution had urged the Philippine government to drop charges against Rappler chief Maria Ressa and to renew the franchise of broadcast network ABS-CBN.
In the resolution, the parliament expressed alarm over the “deteriorating level of press freedom in the Philippines,” citing the cyberlibel conviction of Ressa and a former Rappler researcher-writer as well as the shutdown of ABS-CBN.
However, Cayetano said that cyberlibel was “never an issue of press freedom” as the conviction against Ressa was made “in accordance with our Constitutional due process and standard procedures of the Philippine Judicial System.”
Similarly, Cayetano said that the franchise application of ABS-CBN “was resolved after fair, thorough, and impartial proceedings conducted by the House Committee on Legislative Franchises.”
Both Ressa and ABS-CBN have previously garnered President Rodrigo Duterte’s ire.
“The Philippines has always valued and upheld its long tradition of press freedom, deeply conscious that having a plurality of voices, including critical ones, is an essential requirement for the continued functioning of its cherished democracy,” Cayetano said.
“Press freedom and the right to free expression are protected by no less than the Philippine Constitution, consistent with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,” he added.
On May 5, ABS-CBN complied with the National Telecommunications Commission’s order for it to cease operations after its legislative franchise expired.
Meanwhile, on June 15, the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 46 found Ressa and former researcher Reynaldo Santos Jr. guilty of cyber libel and sentenced them to six months and one day to up to six years in jail. — DVM, GMA News