MANILA -- ABS-CBN Corp President and CEO Carlo Katigbak on Tuesday appealed to lawmakers for a new franchise, citing the "suffering" of its 11,000 workers and its decades-long commitment to public service.
The country's largest media and entertainment company, which has been losing millions since going off air on May 5, has been cleared of wrongdoing by authorities, Katigbak said in the first House hearing on ABS-CBN franchise bills.
"Nagdurusa ang pamilya ko. Nag-aalala sila na mawawalan sila ng trabaho," Katigbak said. "Alam po namin na sa panahon ng pandemya, napakahirap pong mawalan ng trabaho, dahil hindi madaling makahanap ng panibagong hanapbuhay."
(My family is suffering. They are afraid of losing their jobs... We all know how hard it is to lose your job during a pandemic, because finding a job at this time is not easy.)
Addressing critics, Katigbak said: "Hindi po kami nagpapaawa. Umaapila po kami—ibalik niyo po ang ABS-CBN para maprotektahan namin ang 11,000 kong Kapamilya at ang kanilang mga minamahal sa buhay. "
(We are not asking for pity. We appeal to you: Bring ABS-CBN back on air so I can protect my 11,000 Kapamilya and their loved ones.)
Those who doubt ABS-CBN's intentions should try talking to the company's employees, he said. "Sana maramdaman ninyo ang takot nila. Sana po pakinggan niyo ang boses ng aming mga Kapamilya."
(I hope you can feel their fear. I hope you listen to the voices of our Kapamilya.)
Should ABS-CBN be kept off-air, Katigbak said the company could soon release a list of those who could lose their jobs.
Responding to those who say that "the law is the law," Katigbak said: "We agree. We are innocent until proven guilty."
ABS-CBN signed off on May 5, a day after its 25-year franchise expired, after the National Telecommunication ordered it to "cease and desist" broadcast.
The country's largest media and entertainment company has since asked the Supreme Court to allow it to return to air by issuing a cease and desist order against the NTC. It also filed an urgent motion for the high court to act on the TRO petition to prevent "irreparable damage" to its employees and business.
Katigbak had said ABS-CBN was losing P30 million to P35 million in ad revenues each day due to the broadcast shutdown.
ABS-CBN recognizes that "it can be a better company" and should it be given a new 25-year franchise, Katigbak told House members: "We will not stop listening to you."
"We will have the humility to listen to the public," he said.
During the COVID-19 lockdown, Katigbak said ABS-CBN's Pantawid ng Pag-ibig helped feed 300 million people in Metro Manila, Cavite, Laguna, and Bulacan.
"Naniniwala po kami, ang pagbigay ng isang prangkisa ay nakasalalay sa serbisyong naibibigay sa taong bayan (We believe the grant of a franchise depends on public service.) ABS-CBN deserves a future only if it has made your lives better," he said.
"Hinihingi po namin na bigyan ng prangkisa ang ABS-CBN. Tapat po kaming naglilingkod sa bayan sa mahabang panahon. Wala po kaming nilabag na batas. At nangangako po kami na patuloy kaming magsusumikap na maging mas mabuting kumpanya," he said.
(We appeal for a franchise for ABS-CBN. We have been in the service of the nation for a long time. We did not break the law. And we promise to continue striving to be a better company.)