MANILA - The European Parliament adopted a resolution Thursday calling on the Philippine government to grant ABS-CBN Corp.'s broadcast license, nearly 5 months after President Rodrigo Duterte's allies in Congress rejected to renew its permit to operate on TV and radio.
The resolution -- which had 626 votes in favor, 7 against and 52 abstentions -- cited the denial of ABS-CBN's new application of franchise after it expired "as an act of retaliation for the media’s coverage of the anti-drugs campaign and serious human rights abuses."
The Parliament also called for the dropping of at least 6 "politically motivated" lawsuits against Rappler CEO Maria Ressa and the media outlet's staff. Ressa was convicted of cyber libel with researcher Reynaldo Santos last June and may face up to 6 years in jail.
The lawmakers expressed alarm over the "deteriorating level of press freedom in the Philippines" and denounced all forms of threats, harassment and violence directed against human rights advocates, environmental activists, trade unionists and journalists "who seek to expose allegations of extrajudicial killings and other human rights violations in the country."
They also called on Philippine authorities to conduct "impartial, transparent, independent and meaningful" investigations on the deaths of a number of activists.
The parliament condemned the thousands of extrajudicial killings and serious rights abuses in the Philippines, particularly those perpetrated in the country's drug war, and urged Manila to "put an immediate end" to all violent operations and actions against suspected drug offenders.
Disbanding of private and government-backed paramilitary groups in the country were also clamored by the European institution, stressing the fight against illegal drugs must be carried out in strict compliance with due process of law, both national and international, with public health concern.
The EU Parliament also urged Manila to:
- drop all charges against detained Sen. Leila de Lima and release her as she awaits trial "to allow her to freely exercise her rights and duties as an elected representative"
- authorities to recognize the function of rights advocates as a "legitimate role in guaranteeing peace, justice and democracy" in Philippine society
- reverse the Philippines' withdrawal from the International Criminal Court and "cooperate fully" with the ICC Prosecutor's office in its initial inquiry of the situation in the country
- "to immediately halt" ongoing procedures to reinstate capital punishment or the death penalty
- to honor its obligations under international law to safeguard and uphold the rights of indigenous peoples and adopt policies to improve their conditions
- to step up efforts in "effectively" dealing with corruption
- to increase efforts in protecting children from abuse and defend their rights, including the indigenous children's right to education
- to cooperate with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and all UN human rights mechanisms, and avoiding committing acts of intimidation or reprisal against them
- to back the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), "and to ensure effective human rights due diligence processes for investment, development and business projects, especially with regard to large scale agribusiness acquisitions, extractive industries, infrastructure projects and cooperation involving the security sector."
The Duterte administration earlier rejected the United Nations Human Rights chief's call to end the drug war policies that resulted in thousands of deaths, asserting there is no truth to allegations of state-sanctioned killings in the Philippines.