On the Philippines Congress' denial of ABSCBN franchise
The Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan, the socio-political apostolate of the Society of Jesus in the Philippines, laments the House of Representatives' denial of the ABS-CBN’s bid for franchise renewal.
In our mission to build the Kingdom of God for all, we are called to center those most vulnerable in how we engage with the world. This decision regarding the franchise of ABS-CBN has endangered the lives of more than 11,000 workers and their families, who will undoubtedly join the increasing number of Filipinos falling into joblessness and poverty due to the failure to manage the COVID-19 pandemic.
This decision regarding the franchise also deprives rural communities dependent on ABS-CBN’s services the access to news and information that is vital to their health and survival as the country confronts increasing cases of COVID-19 infection. As the Anti-Terrorism Bill had also been signed by our President, the Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan also worries for the abuses and violence that will occur and remain undocumented, unreported, and unknown to the rest of the country.
For months, there have been calls for increased support for our health system and assistance for those in financial need and to strip away the services provided by ABS-CBN not only in the form of elevating these concerns through news and information, but also the massive relief operations they have conducted, is cruel, selfish, and antithetical to our congressmen’s mandate to stand for their constituents’ well-being.
We condemn the administration’s lack of compassion, the blatant disregard for the poor, and the surrendering of the lives of the Filipino people in exchange for power. You will be held to account.
This decision will bring much pain to the Filipino people. The Church knows very well that our Lord called forth communities to come together in times when the darkness and evil make us feel powerless and alone. More than ever, we implore our partners in Christ to be more present in the lives of those most affected and face these evils alongside one another, in prayer, discernment, and action.