The Asia Pacific Research Network (APRN) vehemently denounces the Duterte government’s shutdown of ABS-CBN, the Philippines’ top broadcasting station, which has been in existence for 74 years.
While it is a corporate entity, ABS-CBN has been providing information and commentary that do not conform to those promoted by the government, especially about issues widely seen as the latter’s weak points. It has also been providing crucial information about the current pandemic.
“The media, the Fourth Estate, is one of the pillars of democracy. Attacking the media and legitimizing such attacks constitute excessive abuse of authority. It is akin to using the so-called rule of law to systematically destroy civil liberties,” stated Jazminda Lumang, APRN general secretary.
Since February, the safety of journalists and media practitioners covering CoViD-19 have been severely jeopardized. In China, Chen Quishi and Fang Bin, who were reporting from Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in China, went missing.
Governments in Asia Pacific have intensified media suppression against reports that criticized haphazard state responses to CoViD-19, documented increasing human rights violations, exposed illicit deals in the procurement and distribution of medical equipment and aid, as well as warned of the emerging economic crisis.
“This unwarranted reprisal violates the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights that guarantees the freedom of opinion and expression. During this time when the unhampered flow of information is key to protecting societies against the pandemic, stifling the media also denies the people, especially the vulnerable sectors, of the right to know,” Lumang noted.
APRN calls on civil society organizations to defend press freedom. “We cannot allow ourselves to be blinded or gagged by tyrannical leaders who want us–the people to accept the convenient lies that they spin hook, line, and sinker. We stand for democratic governance that genuinely responds to public demand, rewards free flow of information, and encourages the participation of the majority of citizens,” asserted Lumang.
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