Filipinos need to learn lessons from the country’s history to ensure restraints in freedom won’t repeat, such as the “killing” of broadcast giant ABS-CBN’s franchise by 70 congressmen last year.

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate made this comment during an online forum to commemorate the first year anniversary of the denial of ABS-CBN’s franchise by 70 congressmen allied to President Rodrigo Duterte.

Zarate said that even if history was repeating, it provided lessons on how to change it, alluding to the shutdown of the country’s leading network during the Martial Law era.

“Merong pagkakataon na mabago ito at hindi natin dapat payagan na magpapatuloy itong ganitong kaayusan sa ating bayan na binubusalan ang ating mga mamamayan, nawe-weaponize ang ating institutions at democratic processes,” Zarate said in the forum organized by the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines (NUJP) ABS-CBN Chapter.

(There’s a chance to change it and we should not let this kind of order continue in our nation where our citizens are muzzled and institutions and democratic processes are weaponized.)

Former Supreme Court spokesperson Atty. Ted Te of the Free Legal Assistance Group, said the 13 marathon hearings conducted by the House Committees on Legislative Franchises and Good Government and Public Accountability to investigate the network’s operations were overkill and distinct as other franchises were granted without the same treatment.

“ABS-CBN enjoys the dubious distinction of being the network that was shut down twice under two different administrations. The only difference was, at least in Marcos’ Martial Law, hindi nagpanggap (there were no pretentions),” Te said.

“Ito (ABS-CBN’s 2020 shutdown) dinaan sa kumbaga mala-demokratikong pagdedeliberasyon. Pero ganun din (shutdown during Martial Law) ang nangyari,” he added.

(The ABS-CBN’s 2020 shutdown was done in a democratic-like deliberation. But what happened was like during Martial Law.)

On May 4, 2020, ABS-CBN went off air as its broadcast franchise expired then on July 10, 2020, the 70 congressmen voted in favor of the denial of the franchise renewal while only 11 opposed the resolution, including Zarate.

During the hearings, regulatory agencies cleared the media giant from any alleged violations of its provision under its 25-year franchise.

Te explained that the Supreme Court is bound to honor the findings of administrative agencies, unless the agencies committed grave abuse of discretion. But in the case of ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal, a House committee was reversing and even challenging the agencies’ findings clearing ABS-CBN of any infractions and even acted “like a court.” Jelo Ritzhie Mantaring