- 1000 artists and workers signed a petition urging the House of Representatives to renew the franchise of ABS-CBN.
- The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), Altermidya and Let’s Organize for Democracy and Integrity (LODI) Arts and Media Alliance held a Black Friday protest against the Duterte administration.
- House Bill No. 4349 seeks to renew the Network’s franchise is pending since November 16, 2016.
On June 12, a newspaper report said the lower legislature “froze” House Bill 4349, which sought to renew ABS-CBN’s franchise that will expire on March 20, 2020.
This means the company would not be able to operate should lawmakers in the 18th Congress fail to pass it.
With this unfortunate situation, almost 1000 artists and workers signed for a petition to urged the House of Representatives to renew the franchise of television giant ABS-CBN on June 14 during the Black Friday protest at the Commission on Human Rights.
Among those who signed were led by Piolo Pascual, Coco Martin, Lea Salonga, Pinky Amador, Jaime Fabregas, John Arcilla, Butuin Escalante, Angel Aquino, Ricky Lee, Rody Vera, Lav Diaz, Joel Lamangan and Mae Paner and other TV personalities.
The petitioners also included writers, music composers, cinematographers, lighting directors, production designers, art directors, producers, staff and crew from the Lopez-owned television and film industry.
Malou Maniquis of Concerned Artists of the Philippines and Let’s Organize for Democracy and Intergrity (LODI), read the position paper signed by the petitioners during the protest which stated:
“Consider the greater good while upholding the right of media/art organizations to decide the path it should take as part of its constitutional right to freedom of speech, of expression and of the press.”
However,President Rodrigo Duterte said on many occasions that he will oppose the franchise renewal of ABS-CBN in Congress.
Duterte slammed ABS-CBN for allegedly refusing to run his paid advertisement during the 2016 election campaign and showing instead an ad critical of him paid for by his staunch critic, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV.
The petitioners said this issue regarding the TV ad should have been resolved legally without affecting the entire organization.
“Losing one of just a few national Mass Media Organizations (TV/Radio) that we have will impact on the very reason why information and communication is vital to the building of a great nation. It will deprive people of choices, of another source of FREE access to information, knowledge and entertainment,” the petition read.
The signatories pointed out that many Filipinos still do not have access to the Web or have the budget, which is due to widespread poverty, to spend hours browsing in on the Internet shop and television and radio are their only means to connect with the rest of the nation and the world.
The petitioners said the non-renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise will have implications on their very source of livelihood and will affect their families.
House Bill No. 4349 seeks to renew the radio-television network’s franchise for another 25 years. It has been pending with the committee on legislative franchises since November 16, 2016. It was filed on November 10 of the same year by Nueva Ecija 2nd District Rep. Micaela Violago and by former Davao City Congressman and now Cabinet Sec. Karlo Alexei Nograles under House Bill No. 8163.
Pending bills will have to be refiled at the next Congress, which will be on July 22, 2019.
The Commission on Human Rights was concerned upon knowing the reported move of the House of Representatives to “freeze” the franchise renewal of the said network.
In a statement on Friday June 14, Commission on Human Rights spokesperson Jacqueline De Guia said the services provided by the Lopez-owned broadcasting firm are “beyond the whims of politics.”
“If the Network has committed any violation, it must be tackled through due process,” De Guia said.
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), Altermidya and Let’s Organize for Democracy and Intergrity (LODI) Arts and Media Alliance held the Black Friday protest to call out the Duterte administration to stop harassing ABS-CBN and also to demand justice for veteran journalist Margarita Valle, who was abducted and held incommunicado for 12 hours.
The arrest of Valle, a Davao Today columnist on June 9, was said to be a case of mistaken identity, according to the Philippine National Police (PNP).
The journalist group then blamed the Duterte administration for Valle’s arrest and other recent attacks on journalists.