MANILA — Actress and philanthropist Angel Locsin urged unity within the entertainment industry to voice its objection to the shutdown of ABS-CBN, after the network was denied a fresh 25-year franchise by Congress on Friday.
Locsin was among the ABS-CBN employees who took part in a caravan to the House of Representatives in support of the network, and later, a vigil in front of the Kapamilya headquarters in Quezon City, after the decision.
The vote of the House Committee on Legislative Franchises effectively shut down ABS-CBN for good, more than two months since it was issued a cease-and-desist order by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) over its expired franchise.
ABS-CBN had been trying to renew its franchise since 2014, but faced several roadblocks, especially under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, who had repeatedly promised to close it down.
"Sa dami ng gusto kong sabihin, hindi ko alam kung ano ang uunahin ko," Locsin said in a speech at the Friday night vigil. "Sa dami ng nararamdaman ko ngayon, hindi ko alam kung paano isisigaw."
"Pero ang alam ko lang, ito 'yung panahon para hindi tayo manahimik. Ito 'yung panahon na hindi tayo dapat magwatak-watak. Ipakita natin kung ano ang relevance ng industriya na 'to, na hindi lang tayo basta entertainment," she said.
"Nakikiusap po ako: now is the time. Gamitin natin 'yung boses natin sa tama. Naniniwala rin ako na ang isang kumpanya na may magandang hangarin para makatulong sa ating mga kababayan, lalo na sa gitna ng isang pandemya, ay kailangan na kailangan natin."
Locsin, a Kapamilya since 2007, has been a visible figure in the network's campaign to return to air. Time and again, she brought up the thousands of ABS-CBN workers whose jobs would be jeopardized by the shutdown, as well as millions of Filipinos are now deprived of their usual source of information and entertainment.
"Ang boto pong ito ay hindi lang po tungkol sa mga Lopez," Locsin said, referring to the family that founded ABS-CBN. "Tungkol po ito sa lahat ng mga empleyado ng ABS-CBN, sa lahat ho ng nakikinabang sa ABS-CBN, hindi man ho nagtatrabaho sa ABS. Iyong mga nagtitinda sa canteen, mga suppliers."
Every day it is off air, ABS-CBN loses around P35 million, and by August, it may be forced to retrench workers, the company has said.
Locsin, 35, mentioned that she was born during the time of Martial Law, when ABS-CBN was similarly forced shut by the Marcos regime. ABS-CBN went back on air in 1986, after the Marcos dictatorship was ousted by the People Power Revolution.
"Lagi ko nakikita sa mga balita noon na, 'Never again.' Nakikita ko, nababasa ko sa history books. Ewan ko lang po ngayon sa ganitong generation. Huwag ho sana natin hayaan na dito na lang po matatapos ang ABS-CBN," she said.
"Kailangan po natin ng isa't-isa, kailangan po natin magkaisa, dahil hindi lang po ito laban ng [isang] kumpanya. Buhay po ng mga tao ang nakasalalay dito — mga tao na may binabayaran, hinuhulugan, may pinapagamot, pinag-aaral, binubuhay na pamilya.
"Nakikiusap ako na magkaisa tayo. Iparamdam natin kung ano ang kayang magawa ng industriyang ito, pag tulong-tulong, pag sama-sama."