More than 500 media workers slam House's killing of ABS-CBN franchise bid
Kapamilya artists, employees and supporters light candles in front of the network's main office in Quezon City following the denial of the House of Representatives on the 25-year franchise renewal of the network on July 10..
The STAR/Miguel de Guzman
More than 500 media workers slam House's killing of ABS-CBN franchise bid
Kristine Joy Patag ( - July 13, 2020 - 12:02pm

MANILA, Philippines — History will not be kind to the lawmakers who rejected ABS-CBN’s franchise bid, members of the Philippine media industry said as they slammed their “unjust and cruel” decision that put at risk the jobs of thousands of their colleagues.

In a statement released Monday, at least 587 journalists, editors and media workers stood in unity with thousands of their colleagues at ABS-CBN who are at risk of losing their jobs — amid a pandemic — due to the Congress’ vote to deny the network a fresh franchise.

“One media outfit shut down because of the whims and trivialities of those in power is one too many, especially at a time when the public needs credible and independently verified information to make informed choices,” they said.

“The role of a journalist in a democratic society is to keep the people well-informed to allow them to be free and self-governing, not to serve as any administration’s publicist,” they added.

READ: Filipino journalists up in arms over Congress’ killing of ABS-CBN franchise bid

By a vote of an overwhelming majority of 70, House lawmakers adopted its Technical Working Group’s recommendation to reject ABS-CBN’s bid for a fresh 25-year legislative franchise, in what journalists and media advocates branded as a direct assault to press freedom.

ABS-CBN's shut down comes as the government grapples with rising COVID-19 infections in the country and amid the looming implementation of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, that lawyers and groups warned infringes on people's rights.

A huge attack on press freedom

The media workers said that the lawmakers' vote “sounds the death knell to a credible source of news and a huge attack on press freedom in the country.”

“In denying the network of a franchise, the 70 lawmakers clearly want to treat the press as a propaganda machine that will serve their political interests, embellish their image, and parrot their spin,” they added.

Lawmakers put on their hearing's agenda ABS-CBN’s supposed “biased reporting” on its 12th session last week, and some of them took time to air their grievances against the network's reportage in issues involving them. This is one the issues the solons raised against the network’s bid for franchise, despite Congress having no business in dictating editorial decisions of a media entity.

House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano insisted that the decision of the House panel to deny ABS-CBN another 25-year franchise was not an issue of press freedom.

"For those who continue to push the Freedom of the Press card, Congress is not stifling the right of any journalist, host, commentator, talent, or employee of ABSCBN — or any Filipino for that matter — from criticizing the government," Cayetano said in statement Monday.

RELATED: Zarate: Congress has duty to uphold press freedom, no power to dictate news content

The Palace insisted Friday that the lawmakers’ vote “is the decision of the people,” but a Social Weather Station poll, issued two days later, showed that four out of five Filipinos believe that the House should renew ABS-CBN’s franchise.

The same survey also showed that 56% of Filipinos also believe that the non-renewal of the network’s franchise is a “major blow to press freedom,” despite the Palace and House leadership’s assertion that press freedom has nothing to do with ABS-CBN’s bid.

The group of media workers vowed that history “will surely be cruel” to the 70 lawmakers who voted against the network that was last shut down during the dictatorship of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos Sr.

RELATED: List of lawmakers who voted for and against ABS-CBN franchise renewal

“The only ‘historic’ deed they were able to accomplish is to make the chamber a pawn for carrying out a personal vendetta,” they said.

“Victory came easy for the forces that conspired to bring down ABS-CBN. But the rehabilitation of the image of those condemned by history won't, as it will be fraught with the collective wrath of a people who live by democracy and the rule of law,” they added.

(Editor's note: Media workers with have signed the statement in their individual capacities)

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: July 22, 2020 - 8:59am

ABS-CBN Corp. stopped broadcasting on its TV and radio stations on May 5, 2020 after the National Telecommunications Commission issued a cease and desist order. The network's franchise had lapsed on May 4 without action by the House of Representatives.

July 22, 2020 - 8:59am

Lawmakers of the Makabayan bloc ask the House committee on legislative franchise to submit the report and the adopted resolution denying the franchise of ABS-CBN to the plenary for ratification.

In a letter addressed to Rep. Franz Alvarez (Palawan), Rep. Carlos Zarate (Bayan Muna Party-list) points out that the decision of the House panel to deny ABS-CBN a new franchise requires the approval of the entire lower chamber of Congress.

"Again, we reiterate that it is the duty, and in fact the right, of every member of the House to voice the opinion of their constituents through a plenary vote," the letter reads.

July 16, 2020 - 6:35pm

ABS-CBN’s sports production department announces that it will stop operations after non-renewal of the legislative franchise of the media giant. 

The network said in a statement Wednesday that it is forced to cease some business operations and implement a retrenchment program covering the network and its subsidiaries.

July 15, 2020 - 6:59pm

ABS-CBN announces it will implement a retrenchment program effective August 31 as it has been forced to cease operations of some of its businesses.

"We are doing all we can to mitigate the pain that will be felt by those affected, including paying out separation and retirement benefits and providing job placement programs. The loss of their jobs comes at a time when the uncertain and perilous impact of the COVID-19 pandemic further makes our decision truly difficult, but inevitable," the network also says.

"As much as it hurts us to implement this retrenchment program, this is the only way to ensure the continued employment of the rest of our Kapamilya," it also says as it wishes those affected by retrenchment well.

"For all that you have done for ABS-CBN, maraming salamat po."

July 13, 2020 - 10:22am

More than 500 journalists and media workers express solidarity with thousands of ABS-CBN workers who risk losing their jobs after a House panel denied the broadcast giant a new franchise.

In a statement released Monday, various journalists, editors and workers from different media organizations condemned the "unjust and cruel" decision of the House of Representatives committee on legislative franchises.

"One media outfit shut down because of the whims and trivialities of those in power is one too many, especially at a time when the public needs credible and independently verified information to make informed choices," the statement read.


July 12, 2020 - 6:33pm

Reporters covering the Senate on Sunday say the decision by a House panel to reject ABS-CBN's application for a new franchise "showed us that these lawmakers have become a heavy burden, a compounder of problems, and a worsener of woes to our already suffering nation."

They cite the potential loss of thousands of jobs while the country is dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and say that the "serious economic repercussions" of the network shutdown are already being felt.

"The call of some lawmakers for Filipinos to move on is insensitive and an insult to the intelligence of the people," they also say. 

  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?
Login is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with