MANILA - ABS-CBN Corp. was "never silenced" even a year after it was forced to shut down operations by government, a group of journalists said Wednesday.
The shutdown of the country's largest broadcasting company displaced thousands of workers, including those in its regional network, and "denied millions access to news and information" during the pandemic, said the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.
It added that the network's closure contributed to the Philippines' decline on the World Press Freedom Index and "has drawn comparisons to Marcos' martial law."
"Throughout all this and despite continued attacks and online harassment, ABS-CBN and its courageous journalists have continued to report over the internet and have remained constant companions in dealing with what has become the 'new normal,'" it said.
"We commend the Kapamilyas who have refused to be cowed into silence...We stand with them today in the hope—the certainty—that ABS-CBN will be back on air and will continue the vital work that it has been doing to inform as well as entertain in the service of the Filipino."
In July, a House committee, a majority of which were composed of President Rodrigo Duterte's allies, voted to deny the network a fresh franchise. It followed two months since its free TV and radio broadcast were shuttered at the lapse of its franchise.
"We refuse to forget how Malacañang wielded the state machinery to clamp down on one of the biggest media outlets in the country. We will not forget all those who were instrumental in this wanton violation of press freedom," it said.
"More than anything, the closure of ABS-CBN proves how the tyrant fears truth-tellers."