MANILA (UPDATE) - A group of artists has asked congressmen to discuss the renewal of ABS-CBN's franchise set to end on March 30.
The House of Representatives and not other branches of government is in the "best position to deliberate on whatever violations the franchisee may have committed," Free the Artist Movement (FAM) said in a letter to Palawan Rep. Franz Alvarez, chairman of the House committee on legislative franchise, on Wednesday.
"This matter is not about who owns the station, or who may be a better owner of this franchise. Let us not gamble people’s lives and future; nor the right of people to information and communication at a time when our country is confronted with so many problems," the letter reads.
"We want to believe that the good congressman and his co-members are imbued with a deep sense of obligation towards their constituency, the Filipino People."
The letter, posted on social media by documentary filmmaker Malu Maniquis, said "thousands of Filipinos are suffering from anxiety fearing an uncertain future."
"We appeal to the Committee to think of the 11,000 employees who stand to lose their jobs at a time when government needs to generate jobs," it reads
"We appeal to the Committee to think of at least 18 million poor Filipinos who rely on nothing else but free TV, such as Channel 2, and free radio, such as DZMM."
Among those who signed the letter were Maniquis, "Ang Probinsyano" actor Coco Martin, award-winning director Joel Lamangan, and acclaimed screenwriter Ricky Lee.
The group also expressed dismay over the lawmakers' alleged inaction to a letter it submitted in August 2019 urging the House of Representatives and ABS-CBN to "settle the franchise issue within the halls of Congress."
It noted only 7 weeks remain for congressmen to tackle the issue. House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano earlier said there was "enough time" for the chamber to discuss ABS-CBN's franchise renewal.
The House leadership has not acted on various bills renewing the franchise as the President has opposed it, urging the owners of the company to just sell it. He has accused the network of biased reporting, not airing a 2016 campaign advertisement, among other issues.
news.abs-cbn.com is the official news website of ABS-CBN Corp. --With reports from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News