Petition vs ABS-CBN endangers thousands of workers, labor group says
In this January 23, 2020 photo, members of the ABS-CBN union join a vigil and signature campaign urging the renewal of the network's franchise.
National Union of Journalists of the Philippines Facebook page
Petition vs ABS-CBN endangers thousands of workers, labor group says
Franco Luna ( - February 10, 2020 - 1:12pm

MANILA, Philippines — Workers' groups on Monday said Solicitor General Jose Calida's petition before the Supreme Court to void broadcast giant ABS-CBN's franchise puts the livelihoods of thousands of employees at risk and is an attack on press freedom. 

Solicitor General Jose Calida filed the petition at the Supreme Court earlier that morning in a bid to forfeit the media giant's legislative franchise. Calida accused ABS-CBN of "unlawfully exercising their legislative franchises under Republic Act No. 7966 and Republic Act No. 8332," which are franchises granted to ABS-CBN and subsidiary ABS-CBN Converge. 

The network has yet to issue a statement on the allegation.

Labor group Defend Jobs Philippines on Monday said the petition is "not just an act to curtail press freedom but an attack against the livelihood of more than 11,000 workers of the Kapamilya network."

Thadeus Ifurung, Defend Jobs Philippines spokesperson, said "Calida’s moves to question the validity of ABS-CBN franchise and asking the High Court to revoke it send a strong signal of the real intent of the Duterte government to silence the media giant and disenfranchise its thousands of workers of their employment to feed their families."

Defend Jobs, citing figures from ABS-CBN's report to the Securities and Exchange Commission and Philippine Stock Exchange, said that the company employed 6,730 regular employees, 900 non-regular workers and more than 3,325 talents as of the end of 2018.

Ifurung added, “Duterte’s invisible hand in Calida’s action is evident and is ready to give death blows against Kapamilya workers and to press freedom in the country.”

Kilusang Mayo Uno secretary general Jerome Adonis put it succinctly in a text message to, saying, "Paglabag yan sa press freedom ng bansa (That is a violation of press freedom in the country)."

The Palace has said Duterte has nothing to do with the petition.

President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly lambasted ABS-CBN in speeches and statements, while also saying he would would not meddle with their franchise renewal. Franchises are granting through the enactment of a law, which starts as a bill in Congress. The administration enjoys a supermajority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

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