MANILA (UPDATE)- The largest Filipino-American community federation in the United States has aired its support for the franchise renewal of ABS-CBN Corp, saying the media giant bridges the gap between the Philippines and some 4 million Filipinos in the US.
The National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) said the network and its global television platform The Filipino Channel (TFC) "are a significant media resource whose importance to the Filipino-American community cannot be overstated."
"As a Filipino news and media entity dedicated to artistic and journalistic excellence, they thoughtfully bridge the gap between the Philippines and its diverse diaspora across the United States and the world," the non-profit organization said in a statement on Friday.
The network, NaFFAA said, has become a strong partner in the group's efforts to empower millions of Filipino-Americans.
"They have helped further NaFFAA’s mission through support of programs such as the Biennial National Empowerment Conference, through TFC University (TFCU), and Kollective Hustle," the group said.
'WORTHY OF RENEWED LICENSE'
For the country's largest organization of communication educators, non-renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise despite compliance to requirements of operating a broadcast company would mean "abuse of power on the part of the government."
The Philippine Association of Communication Educators (PACE), meanwhile, said the network has a "solid track record" of public service through its quality news, entertainment and public affairs programs.
"It has created content that promoted child protection and welfare, environmental awareness and conservation, cultural preservation, women’s empowerment, and many other development issues," the group said in a statement on Saturday.
ABS-CBN's public service programs, PACE said, also support in the relief, rehabilitation and prevention during disasters, child protection, microfinance and environmental protection and conservation.
"The license to operate should be based solely on merit. The foregoing show ABS-CBN’s major contributions in proving that it is worthy of a renewed license," the group said.
PACE said there are government agencies, such as the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) and Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB), that monitor the broadcast operations of ABS-CBN.
"To promote and protect freedom of the press, PACE supports renewal of the broadcast license of ABS-CBN," the group said.
The network's franchise is expiring on March 30, 2020 and Congress has yet to tackle 11 bills seeking to grant the company a fresh 25-year broadcast franchise.
President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly said he would block the network's franchise renewal after the company allegedly refused to air a political advertisement in the 2016 presidential campaign. Last December, he also urged ABS-CBN's owners to "just sell" the network.
The chief government counsel, Solicitor General Jose Calida, on Monday filed a quo warranto petition before the Supreme Court seeking to invalidate ABS-CBN's current franchise, citing alleged violations of the law.
Responding to the allegations, ABS-CBN said it "did not violate" any law and continues to stay true to its mandate of being "in the service of the Filipino."
Meanwhile, the Student Media Council of De La Salle University called the quo warranto a "blatant intimidation through jurisprudence" against ABS-CBN.
"The mere fact that the station's counter arguments are not being given merit is silencing. It is a threat to press freedom," it said.
The Far Eastern University Communication Society called on students nationwide to "take a stand against attacks on press freedom, to lawmakers in ensuring the preservation of people's rights that are enshrined in the Philippine Constitution."
Several lawmakers have said ABS-CBN may continue broadcast operations even beyond the lapse of its franchise as renewal bills have been filed.
House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said the franchise bills are "not that urgent," even as he vowed impartial hearings on the proposals.