Quezon City to lose 'quite a lot' from reduced ABS-CBN operations — mayor

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
Quezon City to lose 'quite a lot' from reduced ABS-CBN operations  â mayor
Quezon City Hall
QC Government

MANILA, Philippines — The junking of ABS-CBN Corp.'s bid to renew its legislative franchise and the resulting loss of employment and media services all affect Quezon City's local government greatly, Mayor Joy Belmonte said on Monday morning.

Asked in an interview over ANC just how much the closure of some of the company's units affected the city government, Belmonte said: "Quite a lot. I can't give you the exact numbers at present, but yes, from the perspective of a chief executive."

Congress killed the network's franchise application on Friday, July 10, after an overwhelming 70 legislators in the House Committee on Legislative Franchises voted against bringing the matter the House in plenary. The committee's decision was based on allegations that government agencies had addressed in a series of hearings.

"I will not speak in the perspective of a congressman because their dynamics are different. A mayor's concerns are the people, their employment, the taxes and the revenue generated which will go back to the people in the form of services," Belmonte said. 

"The fact that the ABS-CBN Foundation is part of the branding of the city, as you know the city is known as 'The City of Stars', the foundation has been part of it and the foundation has been helpful to many of the city's advocacies including that of children's rights," she added. 

Outside of the city's local government, over 11,000 workers now stand to lose their jobs with the denial of the broadcast giant's legislative franchise bid, with mass layoffs within the company already slated for end-August. The House's decision has been met with noise barrages and other protests.

In the aftermath of the shutdown, public officials allied with the Duterte administration have framed the denial as taking back equity in the country from so-called oligarchs. Press freedom advocates and journalists' groups have pointed out that President Rodrigo Duterte had long threatened to have the network shut down.

Since the beginning of his term, Duterte has repeatedly threatened ABS-CBN, as well as Rappler and the Inquirer, in his speeches and addresses and has accused them of being biased against government.

House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, who has four relatives in government positions, has also admitted to having personal grievances with the network whose owners he said were oligarchs and whom he likened to "terrorists."

The country's national police has since asked protesters, particularly those protesting ABS-CBN's franchise denial and others planning SONA mass actions on July 27, to instead conduct their activities over the internet. Others have already been arrested for holding online protests, however. 

In an informal talk show posted on Facebook, Reps. Rodante Marcoleta (Sagip Party-list), Jesus Crispin Remulla (Cavite 7th District) and Rep. Michael Defensor (Anakalusugan) called for more sanctions against ABS-CBN including fines and the company's "ejection" from its headquarters in Quezon City's Barangay South Triangle.

Disclosure: Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte is a shareholder of Philstar Global Corp., which operates digital news outlet Philstar.com. This article was produced following editorial guidelines.




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