ABS-CBN employees and people whose lives depend on the network continuing operations didn’t feel like they were alone on Saturday, as they continued to lobby for a broadcast franchise.
Various interest groups — from religious communities and health workers to rights advocates and concerned organizations — joined in the protest held at the perimeter of the company headquarters in Quezon City.
Like previous demonstrations in the past week, done mainly along Sgt. Esguerra Ave. and just at the foot of the enormous transmission tower, candles were lit, prayers were said, speeches were delivered, and a lot of noise was made, with the message being that nobody wants to give up on ABS-CBN.
The difference in this weekend’s demonstration, though, is its breadth and, based on eye test, the volume of participants.
Instead of being restricted to the company home base, supporters stretched their protest’s reach as far as Makati and Manila, using those cities as starting points before rolling out in a convoy and heading to Quezon City.
Vehicles that were part of the motorcade, which included ABS-CBN president and CEO Carlo Katigbak, were decorated with ribbons that came in red, green and blue, the network’s signature colors.
In Makati, supporters gathered at about 3 p.m.
“Kami po ’yung masyadong naapektuhan na mga maliliit na manggagawa sampu ng mga kasamahan ko kaya po nandito po kami nakikisama at lumalaban para po sa kapakanan ng mga empleyado at manggagawa ng ABS-CBN,” said Mac Telpo, who has lost his job as a driver for the company.
Along Ayala, the motorcade ran into a hitch.
Police officers flagged the participants because they weren’t issued a permit to assemble. Members of the convoy were then directed to break up and use another route.
On the same day the Anti-Terror Law became enforceable, Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas said this shouldn’t stop the public from protesting.
“Hindi naman hihinto ang taumbayan para sa pagsasaad ng kanilang mga makatwirang panawagan. In fact sa totoo lang, ang kinikitil ng kasalukuyang administrasyon ay ang karapatan nating magpahayag. Nakita niyo naman di ba nauna pa ang mga pulis, di bale sana kung sasama sila,” Brosas said.
Former lawmaker Neri Colmenares said a continuously loud protest could turn the tide in favor of ABS-CBN.
"Sa sama-samang kilos natin at pagprotesta, lumalaki ang tyansa na mabuksan muli ang ABS-CBN. Hindi ako nawawalan ng pag-asa sa ABS-CBN at sa mga manggagawa nito," Colmenares said.
Celebrities were counted in the event in Quezon City, too, although actress and philanthropist Angel Locsin believed their numbers should be more.
In a short, fiery speech, Locsin chewed out her colleagues for sitting on the fence over the issue.
“Sa lahat ng artistang hindi nagsasalita, ano, may career pa ba kayo? Wala na, wala na kayong network,” Locsin said.
“Kahit magpa-cute kayo diyan sa Instagram, mag-send kayo ng mga sad face — hindi niyo nadadamayan ang mga katrabaho niyong dahilan kung bakit kayo sumikat.”
Also joining the demonstration were Jake Cuenca, love team Maymay Entrata and Edward Barber, Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla, Alex and Toni Gonzaga, Enchong Dee.
ABS-CBN staff in its provincial network, which suffered wide-ranging job cuts, also took to the streets to voice their frustration.
From Bacolod to Cebu, Cagayan de Oro and Davao to Metro Manila, it was clear that support for ABS-CBN to return to the airwaves remained strong. — With reports from Joworski Alipon, Cris Angelo Andrade, Marty Go, Francis Magbanua and Isay Reyes, ABS-CBN News