Robredo: Remember the names of those who ‘killed’ ABS-CBN franchise

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 10) — “Our choice of leaders matters.”

This should be the lesson learned by the public after 70 lawmakers voted to deny ABS-CBN of a new franchise, Vice President Leni Robredo said in a statement following the controversial decision of the House Committee on Legislative Franchises on Friday.

"Pinatay na nila ang renewal ng prangkisa (They killed the renewal of the franchise)," Robredo said.

Kaya’t tandaan natin ang nga pangalan ng mga 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 also said.

[Translation: So let us remember the names of congressmen and officials who opposed our beliefs and hold them accountable through democratic processes; let us remember those who are on our side, so we can strengthen those who are like them.]

Only 11 out of 84 lawmakers voted to grant ABS-CBN a fresh 25-year franchise, but the House has yet to disclose their names. Among them are House Minority Leader Benny Abante and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate, who cast their votes in the House plenary. Others joined via teleconferencing.

Marikina Rep Stella Quimbo also voiced her dissent, saying in a Facebook post that while ABS-CBN may not be a “perfect” company, it should not be shut.

More than 11,000 workers stand to lose their jobs and ABS-CBN said they may be forced to start the layoffs by August. They will add to the more than two million workers displaced by the coronavirus pandemic according to government data.

Robredo stressed that the government should have been focusing on its COVID-19 response instead of ABS-CBN's shutdown, the arrest of Rappler CEO Maria Ressa, and the signing of the controversial Anti-Terrorism Act.

She warned that junking ABS-CBN’s franchise bid will have a “chilling effect” in the media.

Hindi kalabisang isipin na maaaring magbabago ang editorial choices ng ibang pahayagan gawa ng panggigipit na ginawa sa ABS-CBN,” Robredo said.

[Translation: It is not much to think that the editorial choices of other media entities will change because of the harassment done to ASB-CBN.]

READ: Senators believe ABS-CBN fate sets ‘dangerous’ precedent on future media franchises

The House leadership earlier refused to tackle the Kapamilya franchise until it expired in May, prompting the National Telecommunications Commission to order its shutdown.

It is widely viewed as an attack on press freedom since President Rodrigo Duterte publicly threatened ABS-CBN over its failure to air his campaign commercials in 2016. He later on accepted the network's apology and Malacañang said he is now "neutral" on the issue.