MANILA – Opposition Sen. Risa Hontiveros on Friday decried the House Committee on Legislative Franchises' decision to kill the franchise bid of ABS-CBN, saying the deed was an "outrageous act of political persecution."
Seventy congressmen voted not to give ABS-CBN a fresh 25-year franchise, saying it committed several infractions even though the company was cleared by several government agencies like the Bureau of Internal Revenue, Securities and Exchange Commission, Department of Justice, and the Philippine Economic Zone Authority.
Only 11 voted to grant the network a new franchise.
"Because officials committed to settle personal scores with ABS-CBN, 11,000 workers are now in danger of losing their jobs and may fail to provide for their families in the near future," Hontiveros said in a statement.
"The political persecution of ABS-CBN sends a chilling message to Filipino media practitioners and journalists: toe the line or get shut down," she said.
Hontiveros warned politicians who used their mandate to get even with the broadcast giant for its critical reportage, saying they will be "judged" by history.
"At a time when Filipinos are sick, jobless, and hungry, history will judge those who tried to silence the truth," the senator said.
"History will be harsh to those who ignored the most basic needs of Filipinos during this pandemic and instead used it to consolidate power for selfish reasons," she said.
The opposition senator also urged the public to "protect the cause of a free press" and continue to "hold those in power to account" despite the shutdown of the Philippines' largest network.
"May takot at pagbabanta ang mensaheng inihahatid ng gobyerno: kapag kaaway ka, pwede kang ipasara," she said.
(There is a message of intimidation and threat being given by this government: If you're their enemy, you will be shut down.)
"Maniningil ang kasaysayan," she said.
(History will come to collect debts.)