MANILA — Actress and philanthropist Angel Locsin called out what she referred to as the "personal vendetta" in killing the franchise application of ABS-CBN, effectively shuttering for good the Philippines' largest broadcast network amid the coronavirus pandemic.
On Instagram on Tuesday, Locsin shared a comic strip depicting a cameraman handing over his company ID and going home to children, jobless.
"It took a while before I was able to compose myself and feel how I actually felt about the situation," Locsin wrote, three days after the House legislative franchises committee, in a vote of 70-11, junked bills seeking a fresh 25-year franchise for ABS-CBN.
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.
"Alam ko I am sad, alam ko I am angry," Locsin said. "Pero may pakiramdam ako ng panghihinayang na hindi ko naiintindihan kung saan nanggagaling nung simula. Ngayon po na-realize ko kung saan nanggagaling ang lahat ng emosyon na ito."
The exhaustive 12-session hearing on ABS-CBN's franchise covered a range of issues, from the Lopez ownership of the company, technicalities of broadcasting, to labor practices and compliance.
"Ito na sana ang chance para maayos ng ating gobyerno ang entertainment industry," Locsin said.
"I was genuinely hoping that we could turn this into an opportunity to fix the industry's issues. Hindi lang po sa ABS-CBN, kundi ang kabuohan. Though, to be honest, malaki na po ang improvement kumpara nung nagsisimula palang po ako. Katulad ng working hours, contracts, etc. Pero aminado po ako na marami pa rin pong bagay sa entertainment industry ang kailangan pang ayusin, gaya ng ibang nirereklamo ng ibang laborers."
Locsin criticized the 70 lawmakers who instead "chose to shut down the network," rather than "standing up for the people and fix those problems."
"What's the purpose of those testimonies from laborers fighting for their rights kung dito lang magtatapos? Hindi rin naman sila natulungan. Pinagsalita lang pero iniwan lang rin sa ere. In the end, we, in the entertainment industry, especially the day to day earners, kagaya ng crew, were still denied of the opportunity to work in better labor conditions."
The government shutdown of ABS-CBN puts at risk the job security of some 11,000 employees. 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.
That's aside from millions of Filipino viewers being deprived of their source of entertainment and information amid the coronavirus pandemic.
"Kumbaga sa health, may sakit po ang entertainment industry. At nalagay ang ating mga kongresista sa sitwasyon na gabayan at ayusin sana. But sadly, the congress chose a rigid path, pulled the plug and ignored the plea of the entertainment people. They chose the easy way out instead of curing the disease," Locsin wrote.
Locsin, who was among the ABS-CBN employees who joined demonstrations over the weekend in protest of the franchise denial, has been a visible figure in the network's campaign to return to air.
Locsin, who has been a Kapamilya since 2007, time and again brought up the thousands of ABS-CBN workers whose jobs would be jeopardized by the shutdown.
"Bakit dinamay ang karamihan sa personal vendetta ng iilan? Totoong serbisyo para sa tao ba ang ginagawa o gumaganti lang dahil na-expose ang ilang pagkakamali nila?" she wrote.
One of the House panel hearings was devoted to the news component of ABS-CBN, where several lawmakers complained of "bias" when news items cast them in a bad light.
"Kaya ako lumalaban, kahit mahirap at tagilid, kailangan ng mga kasama ko ang karamay ngayon, higit kailan man," Locsin said.
"Naniniwala akong hindi mawawalan ng saysay ang lahat...dahil tatatak ito sa kasaysayan and we, the Filipino people will never forget."