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Sunday, 12 July 2020 07:35

Church bells tolled in parishes in support for Press freedom

In solidarity with the media sector in their plight for press freedom, the Archdiocese of Manila urged the ringing of church bells on Saturday, July 11, 2020, at 7 p.m., that lasted for 10 minutes.

The ringing of the church bells, according to the clergy, was their expression of support and call to prayer for peace and justice in lieu of the rejection of the House of Representatives for the renewal of the franchise of ABS-CBN.

San Fernando de Dilao Parish

On July 10, 2020, the House of Representatives of the 18th Congress of the Philippines denied the application of ABS-CBN’s franchise with the vote of 70 to 11.

In his Facebook post dated July 11, 2020, Bishop Broderick Pabillo, Apostolic Administrator of Manila said that the past few weeks, the Filipinos were “mercilessly punched by adversaries.”

“The Covid infection has been rising in the country. Joblessness continues to hit the people. More and more businesses are closing down or downsizing. The economic situation of the country is bleak,” he said.

Added to these, the Bishop said, “the power of authoritarianism is rising.”

“Maria Ressa was convicted, guilty of cyber libel by the Manila Regional Trial Court on June 15, a decision that is very much contested by lawyers and press people alike. It was a way to curtail press freedom. On July 3, President Duterte signed the Anti-Terrorism Bill into law. Many dub it as TERROR LAW because it is seen by not a few as a way of terrorizing the opposition than really fighting terrorists,” he said.

“Then on July 10, the lower house committee killed the bid for franchise renewal of media outlet ABS-CBN. It is viewed by many as a political vendetta of the present administration, no matter the consequences – the thousands of people who will lose their jobs precisely in this trying time and the millions of viewers among the poor who will be deprived of an important source of information and entertainment,” he added.

Msgr. Rolly dela Cruz, one of the parishes that joined in tolling the bells, expressed his dismay at the result of the congress deliberation pertaining to the ABS CBN franchise, but more so his support for the media practitioners who are going through difficulties.

"Once again, our leaders in Congress did not listen to our pleas. It was rather their biases and self-interests that won the day and we lost another source of information. We shall ring our church bells at 7 o'clock tonight to express our disappointment and protest. Let the bells ring, too, to wake up those who sleep and are indifferent. Finally, the bells will ring to call us to prayer that the Lord may grant us justice and peace!"