ABS-CBN shutdown a Marcosian attack on press freedom —Karapatan

Human rights alliance Karapatan expressed its support for the renewal of broadcasting network ABS-CBN's franchise, which is set to expire in March, as the group called on the public to "stand against the Duterte regime's brazen attacks on press freedom and democracy."

"Together with press freedom advocates, journalists, and media workers, Karapatan calls on Congress to pass the bill for the renewal of ABS-CBN's franchise," Karapatan Deputy Secretary General Roneo Clamor said.

“Duterte's petty vindictiveness and threats to close down one of the biggest media networks in the country should not be taken lightly nor mistaken as a mere takedown of oligarchs. It is the latest in the regime's eerily Marcosian maneuvers that have serious implications on the deteriorating state of press freedom, human rights, and democracy in the country,” he further said. 

Along with blocking ABS-CBN's franchise renewal in Congress, the government has also set into motion legal tools at its disposal, such as a quo warranto petition by the Office of the Solicitor General seeking to revoke the franchise of the media network before the Supreme Court.

"Ripping pages straight from the playbook of Marcos's fascist dictatorship, Duterte has also demanded from ABS-CBN's owners to simply sell the network. But to whom? To one of his cronies? Who will benefit from this? Surely not the public—and surely not the thousands of media workers, journalists, actors, directors, and employees who will lose their jobs with ABS-CBN's shutdown," Clamor further said.

The Karapatan official added that "the non-renewal of the media network's franchise will represent a significant narrowing of the the so-called democratic space in the country should it push through. And like the despotic dictator that he is, this is also a rather organized effort to control public opinion and discourse as the regime unleashes its deceptive army of trolls and fake news propagandists in a bid to further sow public disinformation and confusion."

"Left and right, Duterte is intensifying his attacks on the media, the political opposition and his critics, and the people's resistance to tighten his grip on power. With only a few years left in his term, Duterte is desperately clinging amid the people's growing clamor against his tyrannical rule, and the State's fascist attacks will only worsen and intensify. In these trying times, Karapatan calls on the public to be more vigilant, to consolidate our ranks, and to resist any and all attempts to quell dissent," Clamor ended.