Close to 500 people clad in red tops and armed with red placards on Feb. 14, 2020 trooped in front of the ABS-CBN Esguerra gate to protest government attacks on the media network.
The STAR/Miguel de Guzman
Hundreds show love for ABS-CBN in Valentine's Day protest for franchise renewal
Ratziel San Juan ( - February 15, 2020 - 3:26pm

MANILA, Philippines — Close to 500 people clad in red tops and armed with red placards on Friday trooped in front of the ABS-CBN Esguerra gate to protest government attacks on the media network.

Solicitor General Jose Calida on Monday filed a quo warranto petition against the broadcast network, asking the Supreme Court to "forfeit the franchise" of ABS-CBN and its subsidiary, ABS-CBN Convergence which operates TVPlus and the now-defunct ABS-CBN mobile. 

In response to the attacks against the network, the Red Friday protest was organized by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines along with other advocacy groups and ABS-CBN employees.

The demonstrators called on the Philippine government to renew ABS-CBN’s legislative franchise, which is set to expire on March 30.

“'Wag po tayong magpadala sa naratibong ipinapangalandakan ng ilang DDS trolls at ng ilang mga opisyal ng gobyerno. Hindi ito usapin ng paglabag ng batas, di umano, o 'yung pag-violate doon sa tinatawag na provision sa franchise agreement,” UP journalism professor Danilo Arao said during the protest.

(Let’s not fall victim to the narrative peddled by some Diehard Duterte Supporter trolls and some government officials. This is not a matter of an alleged violation of law or a provision of ABS-CBN’s franchise agreement.)

“'Kung merong kakulangan sa pagbabayad ng buwis, kung merong problema sa pagtrato ng manggagawa ng ABS-CBN, ito po ay nase-settle sa iba't ibang mga korte at hindi ito nangangahulugan ng tahasang pagpapasara sa isang istasyong kinikilala natin magmula noon pa na nagtataguyod ng isang klase ng responsableng peryodismo.”

(If there is a shortcoming when it comes to ABS-CBN paying its taxes or labor issues involving its employees, these can be settled in one of many courts and it does not warrant the outright closure of a reputable station that provides responsible journalism.)

RELATED: Media groups say if ABS-CBN franchise expires its workers, public to suffer most

The network faces possible termination of broadcast services after its franchise expires in a little over a month.

NUJP has asked Congress to act independently on the franchise renewal issue, estimating that between 10,000 to 11,000 are at risk of losing their jobs.

Broadcast companies, including radio and television networks, in the Philippines are required to seek a congressional franchise from Congress under Republic Act 3846.

A legislative 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.

Duterte has repeatedly criticized ABS-CBN and stated that he is determined to block the renewal of its franchise.

RELATED: What are ABS-CBN’s chances of renewing its franchise?

However, House legislative franchises committee vice chairman and District Representative Tonypet Albano (Isabela) said ABS-CBN would not be automatically closed down even if its franchise is not renewed by the end of March.

“May I remind the public that even if the ABS-CBN franchise expires on March 30, it doesn’t mean that ABS-CBN will close completely because the rule of thumb… is that while 18th Congress is still ongoing they can continue its services (pending renewal of application),” the lawmaker said.

RELATED: ABS-CBN may operate until 2022 — lawmaker

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