By Chito Chavez
Environmental group EcoWaste Coalition expressed grave alarm by “the mounting danger of ABS-CBN losing its congressional franchise, which is set to expire on 30 March 2020.’’
EcoWaste Coalition national coordinator Aileen Lucero Grossly said she was upset by the quo warranto petition filed by the Office of the Solicitor General asking the Supreme Court to forfeit the franchise of the media institution.
With this development, the Quezon City based group appealed to the House Committee on Legislative Franchises, which has jurisdiction on “all matters directly and principally relating to the grant, amendment, extension or revocation of franchises,” to convene itself and speedily consider bills seeking to renew the franchise of the media network.
As an advocate for the public’s right to know, EcoWaste Coalition said it considers the moves to shut down ABS-CBN as a severe blow to the freedom of speech and of the press and contrary to the state policy that “recognizes the vital role of communication and information in nation-building.”
Lucero insisted that a free press is essential in the pursuit of the constitutionally guaranteed rights to health and to a balanced and healthful ecology and the full respect of human rights.
“As shutting down ABS-CBN will leave a huge void in environmental education and advocacy, noting the network’s programs and projects in defense of the environment and in support of disadvantaged communities, we urge members of Congress to cross party lines, and work double-time to uphold due process and to ensure that its power to grant, amend, extend or revoke franchises is duly respected and not by-passed or usurped by other government instrumentalities,’’ Lucero said.
For the “sake of a free press, for the sake of environmental protection and public service, and for the sake of the thousands of workers employed by the network and its subsidiaries,’’ Lucero urged both the House of Representatives and the Senate act on the franchise renewal.