Lawmakers who started out at ABS-CBN push for network's franchise renewal

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 01 2020 12:08 PM | Updated as of Jun 01 2020 01:46 PM

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MANILA – Former ABS-CBN employees turned lawmakers on Monday pushed for the renewal of company’s franchise, saying it went above and beyond its obligations of a broadcast network by helping those in need.

During a House joint panel tackling ABS-CBN’s franchise bid, Laguna 3rd District Rep. Sol Aragones said the Philippine media conglomerate had distributed 12 million relief goods to calamity victims since 2009, built and repaired hundreds of classrooms and gave some 300,000 scholarship grants, among many others.

“In my 13 years as an employee in this company, I remember so many stories of hopes and dreams, of chances and choices, of struggles and triumphs, of love and everything, as in memories that will last me a lifetime,” she said.

“But there’s one thing I can never forget. ABS-CBN was not only interested in reporting the news, but it went above and beyond the obligations of a broadcast network by helping those in need. No matter how few they may be, no matter how far they may be. Truly, simply, ABS-CBN stood for then as it stands for now in the service of the Filipino,” she added.

Aragones, who previously worked as reporter for the company, said ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation’s emergency humanitarian assistance program “Sagip Kapamilya” had provided assistance to victims of natural calamities.

Bantay Bata, the foundation’s child welfare arm, has also protected abused Filipino children, she said.

The lawmaker also cited the contributions of the foundation’s environmental arm “Bantay Kalikasan” in relieving the plight of farmers and fishermen.

“All of these, and many more, is what ABS-CBN is all about. Over and above the news and entertainment, it stood for then, as it stands for now, in the service of the Filipino. This is my personal knowledge. This is my personal experience,” she said.

“And I am sure that all of the more than 11,000 employees of the company at present know and experience the same. Alam kong nauunawaan niyo po ang pinanggagalingan ko bilang isang dating empleyado ng istasyon (I know you will understand where I am coming from as a former employee of the station),” she added.

Parañaque City 2nd District Rep. Joy Myra Tambunting, who is among the pioneer employees of ABS-CBN in the 1980s, said the network shaped her career in many ways.

“My mentors in ABS-CBN taught me a lot about work. The value of work, hard work, respect for work, accuracy, love and respect for coworkers, and most of all, the dignity of work from God. These lessons help me mold me of what I am today,” she said.

Meanwhile, Nueva Ecija 2nd District Rep. Micaela Violago, who is the first lawmaker to file for ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal in the 18th Congress, said the network had been at the forefront of providing TV and radio programming service for 7 decades, here and abroad.

“In acknowledgement of ABS-CBN accomplishment and the capital requirement of its operation, the immediate grant of its franchise is recommended to ensure that ABS-CBN could continue fulfilling its mandate of being the service of the Filipino,” she said.

Violago further stressed ABS-CBN’s role while the country is facing the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Most especially now that the country is in the middle of ongoing pandemic. We can’t in any way undervalue the huge role that ABS-CBN plays for the Filipino people,” she said.

Antique Lone District Rep. Loren Legarda, a former ABS-CBN broadcast journalist, also raised concerns for the network’s employees amid the COVID-19 crisis.

“Having been part of this news organization from 1986 to 1998 before I became a senator, those were the years that formed a great part of my life, which I cherished. I stand for the corporation’s 11,000 employees and more, composed of the rank and file, talents, professionals, my previous coworkers who are facing uncertainty with regard to their jobs and sources of income and livelihood at this worst possible time as we face the COVID-19 pandemic. Let us all help them and let us help the industry,” she said.

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The state broadcast regulator issued a cease-and-desist order against the network on May 5, a day after its broadcast franchise expired. It was the second time the network went off air, the first was when former dictator Ferdinand Marcos imposed martial rule in 1972.

The company had repeatedly applied for the renewal of its broadcast franchise since 2014. 

Some 12 bills granting the network a fresh 25-year franchise have been sitting under the 18th Congress, but the House Committee on Legislative Franchises only conducted its first hearing on March 10.

While the network complied with the National Telecommunications Commission's order, it ran to the Supreme Court to seek an injunction, saying it was denied of its constitutional right to equal protection of the law.

In the absence of its vital revenue stream, the company, which employs 11,000 employees throughout its various subsidiaries, mulls retrenchment as the company loses P30 million to P35 million daily.

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