European Parliament to PH: Grant ABS-CBN broadcast franchise, drop charges vs Ressa
MANILA, Philippines — The European Parliament adopted on Thursday a resolution calling on the Philippine government to grant ABS-CBN a broadcast license and to drop charges against Rappler chief Maria Ressa.
In a resolution on “the situation in the Philippines, including the case of Maria Ressa,” the parliament said it is alarmed about the “deteriorating level of press freedom” in the country.
[The parliament] condemns all threats, harassment, intimidation, unfair prosecutions, and violence against journalists, including the case of Maria Ressa; calls for all politically motivated charges against her and her colleagues to be dropped,” read the resolution which had 626 votes in favor, 7 against and 52 abstentions.
“[The parliament] recalls that press freedom and freedom of expression are fundamental components of democracy; calls on the Philippine authorities to renew the broadcast licence of the main audio-visual group, ABS-CBN,” it added.
It likewise called on the European Union delegation and EU member states’ representations in Manila to closely monitor the cases against Ressa and former Rappler researcher-writer Reynaldo Santos Jr, and to provide all necessary assistance to them.
ABS-CBN shut down its broadcast operations on May 5 after the National Telecommunications Commission issued a cease-and-desist order against the network a day after its franchise expired on May 4.
The House of Representatives Committee on Legislative Franchises later denied the franchise bid of the media giant in July.
In June, Ressa and Santos were convicted of cyberlibel over the complaint filed in 2017 by Filipino-Chinese businessman Wilfredo Keng.
The case stemmed from a Rappler article titled “CJ Using SUVs of Controversial Businessman” written by Santos in 2012, which claimed that former Chief Justice Renato Corona was using a sports utility vehicle found to be registered to Keng.
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