Philippine Congress officially shuts down leading broadcaster ABS – CBN by refusing to allow it to renew its franchise. While the decision came after the House of Representatives had witnessed 13 hearings supporting the renewal of the franchise. The overwhelming majority vote to shutdown stated allegations of wrongdoing by ABS – CBN including illegally operating a cable channel. While ABS – CBN stringently denied these allegations of wrongdoing. It does appear that the primary reason the Philippine Congress shut down the broadcaster was to support the president.
The Philippine president Mr. Duterte has aggressively criticized ABS – CBN for years and has threatened to deny their franchise renewal. However, the president’s critics have stated that the president has been going after any broadcaster that opposes the president’s policies. The president spoke men stated that “the palace has maintained a neutral stance on the issue”. While this may be true to an extent in appearance it is no more than a poorly concealed falsehood. The president based on previous statement has been anything but neutral on this issue. This can be seen by the fact that the committee overseeing the hearings and cast votes was overwhelmingly stacked with his supporters.
Reasoning and fallout
It’s too early to see what the fallout or response will be to the Philippine Congress decision. However, based on past events as possible to make a prediction and also understand the reasoning. ABS – CBN viewership consisted of 70 million viewers each week who depended on the agency for news. Mr. Duterte may have viewed this as a threat. With such a large percentage of potential voters be influenced by one of his most outspoken critics.
As for the fallout from the Philippine Congress decision in the immediate future ABS – CBN will continue to provide news. It will do this through the only avenues left to it that the Philippine government cannot influence. That being said if the company cannot renew its franchise than it will have to let its 11,000 employees go. This decision by the Philippine Congress sets a dangerous precedent that the current president can control what his people here.