• Romblon Sun

Poe stresses need to strengthen PH institutions, media

Sen. Grace Poe called on the media to continue to be fearless in their journalism despite the recent House decision on the renewal of the ABS-CBN franchise.

Poe said a vigilant public and a free and fair media are what the country needs.

"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.

The senator said that, in the end, it will be the Filipino people who will judge.

"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 about her view whether the case was an attack on press freedom, she explained, "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."

Poe was saddened by the outright denial of the franchise application amid alleged violations of the network, which she said could have been dealt with in another forum or 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.

The chairperson of the public services committee recalled that Dito Telecommunity Corp., which was formerly called Mislatel, was given a franchise by Congress and allowed to operate despite its violations.

"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.

When the resolution on the franchise reached the Senate, she said senators saw the need of the telecommunications industry for a third player and gave Mislatel a chance but with certain safeguards.

"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.