MANILA - Vice-President Leni Robredo on Friday night paid tribute to ABS-CBN as the network's regional stations signed off following its failed franchise bid.
In a message posted on Facebook, Robredo thanked the ABS-CBN Regional Network Group, particularly its local office in Bicol, for its decades-long public service to Filipinos.
"ABS-CBN Bicol has been a big part of our homes and our lives for many years. I am sure it’s the same thing for many other Bicolanos like me," she said, as the regional editions of the broadcaster's flagship news program "TV Patrol" aired its last newscasts.
"Today, as they bid us goodbye, we want to thank the ABS-CBN Bicol family for the many years of service to the Bicolanos," added Robredo, who hails from Naga City, Camarines Sur.
Robredo recalled that during her visit to remote communities in Camarines Sur locals would watch ABS-CBN shows "after a long day at work." She was then the congresswoman of the province's third district.
After she was elected vice president in 2016, Robredo said she visited a far-flung community in Ocampo town where ABS-CBN shows were only among those accessible.
In an island in Caramoan town, she said the entire community relied on 2 households who had their own generator sets to watch ABS-CBN programs, such as "Ang Probinsyano."
Robredo in her message also expressed gratitude to ABS-CBN Bicol station manager Amalia Villafuerte, who had been at the helm of the regional station for decades.
"As all the other ABS CBN Regional Networks are closing their operations tonight, I am sure a lot of those living in the provinces are also feeling the same sadness," she said.
"I hope we take this moment to thank all of the men and women behind the Regional Networks for their service to us all."
The country's telecoms body shut down ABS-CBN's free TV and radio operations on May 5 after its franchise was left to expire on May 4 despite a long-pending renewal application at the administration-backed House of Representatives.
On July 10, the Committee on Legislative Franchises denied the network's franchise bid after conducting 13 hearings, which tackled various issues such as alleged labor and tax violations and foreign ownership in mass media.