Sen. Grace Poe encouraged the media to continue being fearless in pursuing their careers amidst the recent rejection of a House panel of ABS-CBN’s franchise. 

Poe noted that the country needs the collective efforts of a vigilant public and a free and fair media.

“We really have to strengthen our institutions and with that media should also be strengthened. . . . If we have a strong media and strong accountability in this country, I think that lawmakers will be very cautious to do the right thing,” Poe said in a television interview Monday.

She added that the Filipino people will be the judge in the end.

“Dapat bang matakot ang media? Sana huwag dahil importante talaga ang trabaho ng media para mailahad ang nangyayari, at ang taumbayan ang mismong magdesisyon kung ito ba ay patas o hindi,” she said.

Asked whether the the closure of the media giant was an attack on press freedom, Poe said: “Maybe legally they did not put it on paper, but indications would point that some of their reasoning would really say that people now are being very cautious of what they say, if it might be perceived as something that might be offensive to some people in government.”

The senator expressed her sadness over the denial of ABS-CBN’s franchise adding that matters could have been discussed in another forum or with the proper agencies.

“If there was indeed violation of some kind, the NTC (National Telecommunications Commission) should have filed a case against them,” she said.

Poe, who also chairs the Senate public services committee, stressed that Congress granted a franchise to Dito Telecommunity Corp., formerly called Mislatel, even if violations were found.

“When it acquired that franchise, part of the franchise agreement states that you should be in operation for a certain period. Mislatel was dormant for the longest time and yet Congress moved past that and granted them the franchise,” Poe said.

Dito Telecommunity Corp., is the telecommunications company of Davao-based businessman Dennis Uy, a close friend of President Rodrigo Duterte and a major donor to the president’s campaign in 2016.

When the resolution on the franchise was sent to the Senate, she revealed that senators decided to give Mislatel a chance but with conditions.

“There are parameters, but you should also be flexible in the name of public service, what can serve the most number of people, what interest will be upheld. If it will be just for personal vendetta or personal opinions about it, I don’t think it would be fair,” Poe stressed.  (RJ Espartinez)