On July 10, one of the Philippines’ largest broadcasting companies effectively shut down after it failed to win the votes of the legislative franchise committee members.
Out of the 85 members of the committee and ex-officio members present, only 11 congressmen voted against the rejection of a fresh 25-year license of media giant ABS-CBN. And one of the members who supported the call to renew the franchise was veteran actress-turned-Batangas 6th district Representative Vilma Santos-Recto.
In an interview with ABS-CBN TeleRadyo, Santos admitted that she was surprised by the 70-11 result knowing that many supported the franchise bill during the hearings.
She stated, “Alam niyo sa totoo lang, pareho ninyo, ako’y nagulat, Kasi initially, maski sa mga pagdinig, alam ko kahit paano, maraming sumusuporta sa bill na ito na inilalaban namin.
“Biglang, bakit kami kumonti ng ganito na lang? Very significant naman na bigla na lang kami naging 11. May mga ganyang palakad na kung minsan ay hindi natin basta matatanong o makikuwestiyon. Maski ako, hanggang ngayon, hindi ko ma-absorb, nahihirapan ako,” she added.
She also reiterated that throughout the 12 hearings, the alleged violations thrown to the network were cleared out by government agencies. The alleged violations ranged from its broadcast practices to its tax compliance. And if there were any problems with the network, it can be resolved through due process but not to the extent of its closure.
She said, “Kaya tayo naninindigan — nakita naman po natin na ‘yung mga iniisyu na violations, napatunayan din naman po ng national agencies na wala naman po talagang nalabag.
“Kung meron mang mga administratibong pagkukulang, ito naman po ay nako-correct. Meron naman po tayong proseso sa batas… Ang point ko, not to the extent na magsasara.”
She as well raised the concern regarding the job security of the 11,000 workers that might lose their livelihood amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Sabi nila, ginagawang shield iyong 11,000 employees… Let’s face the truth: more than 11,000 ang mawawalan na naman ng trabaho… With the present situation na hinaharap natin ngayon, ang dagok ng pandemyang COVID-19.”
But despite the legislative franchise result, Santos is still hopeful and positive that the network will not close because of this.
“I truly believe… I’m still very optimistic, we can refile. Puwede naman po ‘yan later on. Sabi ko nga, hindi dito magsasara ‘yan,” she said.
Earlier on June 1, Santos showed her support as she stood up for the network through her sponsorship speech for the House Bill 4305 noting ABS-CBN’s stature as the “Philippines’ largest entertainment and media conglomerate.”
She emphasized that the company has made massive contributions to Filipinos all around the world for years. As she stated that it is the source of information, entertainment, education, and public service.
Before entering the life of politics, Vilma Santos started as a distinguished Filipino actress and was dubbed as the “Star for all Seasons” for being the longest reigning box office queen of the Philippine Cinema. She started her acting career young as she portrayed Trudis in the film 1963 film “Trudis Liit.” Her last film was in 2016 where she played the role of Dr. Vivian Rabaya in “Everything About Her.”