Fil-Ams in New York, San Francisco show support for ABS-CBN, free press

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 26 2020 10:38 AM | Updated as of Feb 26 2020 11:00 AM

Various groups protest in front of the Philippine Consulate in New York against the potential closure of ABS-CBN Corp. Photo courtesy of Mike Cohen

Various groups protest in front of the Philippine Consulate in New York against the potential closure of ABS-CBN Corp. Photo courtesy of Mike Cohen

Various groups protest in front of the Philippine Consulate in New York against the potential closure of ABS-CBN Corp. Photo courtesy of Mike Cohen

Various groups protest in front of the Philippine Consulate in New York against the potential closure of ABS-CBN Corp. Photo courtesy of Mike Cohen

Several Filipino-American organizations trooped to the Philippine consulate in New York and San Francisco on Wednesday in a show of support for press freedom and ABS-CBN Corp as the government moved to close down the country’s largest media network.

The protesters claimed President Rodrigo Duterte, who had repeatedly threatened to shut down ABS-CBN due to his unaired 2016 elections ads, was behind Solicitor General Jose Calida's petition asking the Supreme Court to nullify the network's franchise due to alleged abuses.

"Duterte wants absolute power, and when you have absolute power, you have absolute corruption. If they (public) are kept in the dark, then he can reign like a king, or like a mafia boss. Who is keeping him from becoming absolute monarchy? ABS-CBN," said Loida Nicolas Lewis of the US Pinoys for Good Governance.
 
Julie Jamora of the Malaya Movement claimed the government had "constantly used paid trolls [and] fake news," to confuse the public about the issue.

"Press freedom is under attack, and it’s the basic tenets of our democracy," she said.

"Today we shout defend press freedom, defend ABS-CBN, safeguard our democracy," added Bernadette Ellorin of Bayan-USA.

Spokesman Salvador Panelo earlier claimed Duterte "has nothing to do" with ABS-CBN's franchise woes and his threats to close the network should not be taken literally.

The President was “hurt” after ABS-CBN in 2016 ran a negative ad against him that then Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV paid for, Duterte's former longtime aide Sen. Christopher "Bong" Go told a Senate committee hearing on Monday.

ABS-CBN Corp president Carlo Katigbak during the Senate inquiry apologized “if we offended the president,” but maintained that the network was “just abiding by the laws and regulations that surround the airing of political ads.”
 
Meanwhile, officials of the Bureau of Internal Revenue and Securities and Exchange Commission told lawmakers that ABS-CBN regularly paid taxes and was not facing any complaint or investigation.

The House of Representatives has yet to tackle several bills seeking the renewal of ABS-CBN's franchise, set to expire in May.

The groups who backed the network during Wednesday's US protests also included the National Federation of Filipino American Associations, Filipino-American Human Rights Alliance, and the Fil-Am Press Club
 
The protest came a day after the Philippines marked the 34th anniversary of the peaceful EDSA uprising against the dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who in 1973 shut down ABS-CBN and other media outlets.

- With reports from Rommel Conclara and Don Tagala, ABS-CBN News