Health workers lament ABS-CBN shutdown, loss information source amid pandemic

Health workers lament ABS-CBN shutdown, loss information source amid pandemic
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

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 1:58 a.m.) — The Alliance of Health Workers, a network of nurses, medical technicians and other healthcare workers across the country, slammed the House of Representatives panel’s rejection of the franchise bid of ABS-CBN, which they said, helped in bringing to public issues plaguing the healthcare sector.

AHW said in a statement that the shutdown of the biggest broadcasting network in the country happened “at the expense of millions of Filipino families, including health workers who have been deprived of the services, news, shows, entertainment, information knowledge and wisdom that ABS-CBN brings to masses in the most far flung and remote areas in the country and beyond the sea.”

“ABS-CBN has always been with health workers, covering activities and bringing to the public especially to the government authorities’ attention the issues and concerns of our frontline health workers, especially in these trying times of COVID-19 pandemic, economic crisis and rising tyranny of state forces,” they said.

ABS-CBN’s shutdown came as Philippine health authorities struggle to contain the spread of the coronavirus that, as of July 13, infected 57,007 and killed 1,599 Filipinos.

READ: NUJP: Latest stop order vs ABS-CBN deprives 11 million Filipinos of news, information

An overwhelming majority of 70, against 11, voted to deny the network of a fresh franchise, putting at risk the livelihood and families of 11,000 workers amid a pandemic.

AHW said they believe that the decision of the House legislative franchise committee was not based on the deliberations they conducted. The group noted that resource persons from government agencies all said that ABS-CBN did not commit any violation.

“Their votes are inconsistent with the sentiment and preference of their constituents being represented. Instead, it is based on their narrow personal interests and the interests of their political allies with personal hatred to seek revenge on ABS-CBN management,” they also said.

"This is a clear step by the Duterte administration to kill the freedom of expression, democracy and press freedom," AHW 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 of 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.

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 franchise bid.

Filipino journalists are up in arms over the House’s decision to shut down the network. In a statement by journalists, editors and media networks across the country, they said: “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.”

Close to 1,000 media workers vowed: “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.”  — Kristine Joy Patag

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As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: May 23, 2023 - 1:36pm

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.

May 23, 2023 - 1:36pm

ABS-CBN announces that it will cease operations of TeleRadyo, which has been in the red since 2020, by June 30.

August 11, 2022 - 9:37am

In a disclosure, ABS confirms signing of deal that sees the broadcast giant enter into a joint venture with MVP's TV5. — Ramon Royandoyan


January 27, 2021 - 3:35pm

Rep. Mike Defensor (Anakalusugan Party-list) attempts to put the ABS-CBN franchise up for a vote in the plenary, saying it should be taken up as it is in the House's unfinished business.

The House rejects his motion, but he appeals this. House leaders later on commit to begin tackling its unfinished business beginning Monday. —  Xave Gregorio

January 18, 2021 - 3:38pm

Rep. Vilma Santos-Recto (Batangas) has filed a bill seeking the renewal of the franchise granted to broadcast giant ABS-CBN.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III earlier filed a similar bill at the Senate, saying a majority of Filipinos get their news primarily from TV. 

Franchise bills emanate from the House of Representatives.

January 5, 2021 - 8:00pm

Malacañang is leaving it up to Congress to decide on the new bill seeking to renew the franchise of television network ABS-CBN, which was forced to lay off thousands of workers after its franchise expired last May. 

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque disagreed, saying the fate of the bill depends on lawmakers. 

"Well, again, I beg to differ; that is a sole constitutional prerogative of Congress which must originate from the House of Representatives," Roque says at a press briefing. —  Alexis Romero

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