Show of force for ABS-CBN as Senate tackles franchise renewal

Christian V. Esguerra, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 24 2020 09:59 AM

MANILA—Supporters of ABS-CBN on Monday massed outside the Senate to pressure legislators to renew the franchise of the Philippines’ largest media network.

A National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) petition called on Congress to “do what is right” and grant the network a fresh 25-year franchise. 

“Do not be accomplices in the rape of democracy,” read the petition, which described Solicitor General Jose Calida’s petition to close down ABS-CBN as a “supremely undemocratic act.”

Calida’s quo warranto petition cited alleged violations in ABS-CBN’s current franchise.

Issues against a broadcast network’s franchise should be raised during a congressional hearing and must not be used to justify a shutdown, said Raymund Villanueva, deputy secretary general of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.

“Ang anumang pagpapasara sa isang media organization ay isang pag-atake sa kalayaan sa pamamahayag,” he said during the rally.

(Any attempt to shutter a media organization is an attack against freedom of the press.)

Lito Ustarez of the Kilusang Mayo Uno described efforts to close down ABS-CBN as a “form of suppression.”

Tindig Pilinas, a coalition of civil society organizations, criticized previous pronouncements by President Rodrigo Duterte criticizing the netowrk.

Duterte earlier said he would “make sure” ABS-CBN would be out of broadcast.

“Hindi kapritso lamang ng isang pangulo ang dapat maging dahilan para isarado ang ABS-CBN,” Tindig Pilipinas said in a statement.

(The whims of one president should not be grounds to close ABS-CBN.)