Church vs Duterte: Lawmakers told to renew licence for Catholic radio stations

(File) Devotees attend mass inside a Catholic church in Quezon City, metro Manila, Philippines September 22, 2017. Source: Reuters/Dondi Tawatao

PHILIPPINE lawmakers must renew the licence of 54 Church-run radio stations in the country, according to an international media watchdog.

The application for renewal has been pending since January last year and has been repeatedly blocked in the House of Representatives, for what Reporters Without Borders (RSF) believe are political reasons.

In a statement released Wednesday, the French-based organisation called on the government to address the concerns of the Catholic Media Network and allow it to renew its licence, which it has held for over 25 years.

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“It should be a mere formality, nothing more than a stamp on a four-page document,” said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk.

“Meanwhile, as Kodao is well known for its uncompromising criticism of the authorities, its suspension also has all the hallmarks of a reprisal against the free press,” Bastard said.

On Jan 15, a government spokesman announced the withdrawal of the licence of Rappler, the country’s leading news website, which has appealed against the decision. RSF said it had referred the case to the United Nations, who expressed “deep concern about this violation of media freedom.”

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines is organising regular “Black Friday” demonstrations in support of media outlets that have been the victims of government hostility.

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