The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines on Jan. 17 and 18, 2020 launched an on-ground and online signature campaign petitioning that Congress renew the legislative franchise of media giant ABS-CBN.
Jefferson Losito via Union of Journalists of the Philippines-UP (UJP-UP)
1 million signatures aimed by NUJP petition for ABS-CBN franchise renewal
Ratziel San Juan ( - January 18, 2020 - 3:27pm

MANILA, Philippines — The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines launched an on-ground and online signature campaign petitioning that Congress renew the legislative franchise of media giant ABS-CBN.

The said franchise is set to expire on March 30, after which the network’s broadcast services will cease operation.

NUJP Secretary-General Dabet Panelo told that they collected 83 signatures during their petition signing at the #NoToABSCBNShutdown protest held at the Boy Scout Circle in Quezon City on Friday evening.

The protest was attended by journalists from different news organizations in solidarity with their colleagues at ABS-CBN.

After the NUJP collectively gathers a million signatures from the on-ground signing, as well as the petition, they will submit these to Congress for review.

Panelo said the media rights group is hopeful that the target will be met despite having only two months left because they are reaching out to different groups for signatures and since the petition can also be signed by those abroad.

The secretary-general said that based on her discussion with an unnamed solon at the protest Friday, a committee hearing on the proposed legislation to renew the ABS-CBN franchise has still not been set.

“We call on Congress to do what is right and immediately pass the bill to renew ABS-CBN's franchise,” reads the petition made available online.

“While we are dismayed at Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano's brazen conflict of interest when he admitted having a personal beef with the network whose franchise the chamber he heads is supposed to deliberate on, we continue to hope that you, the elected representatives of the people, can rise above your leader's petty vindictiveness and strike a blow in defense of freedom of the press and of expression.”

An administration-recognized super majority stands in the House with about 290 members. It is helmed by Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano who was the president’s running mate in the 2016 elections and Cabinet appointee prior to speakership.

Duterte also brokered the initial "term-sharing" agreement between Cayetano and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Jay Velasco that saw the former rise to the speakership.

“At the very least, if the president is really hell-bent on shutting down ABS-CBN, let him bear full responsibility by passing the bill renewing the network's franchise and let him veto it if he dares to. Do not be accomplices in the rape of democracy,” the petition read.

A congressional franchise bill needs to be approved by the House of Representatives before it is transmitted to the Senate. The version of the bill approved by both chambers would then still need the president’s approval.

President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly said that he is determined to block the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise.

“Ang inyong franchise mag-end (your franchise will end) next year. If you are expecting na ma-renew 'yan (its renewal), I'm sorry. You're out. I will see to it that you're out,” the president said in December 2019.

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