The hashtag #ABSCBNIsNotForSale trended on local Twitter as President Rodrigo Duterte suggested that owners of media giant ABS-CBN should just “sell” the network as the expiration of its legislative franchise looms.
Certain people working in the network shared the hashtag, as well as Filipinos calling for the administration to renew its franchise in a bid to uphold press freedom and secure people’s source of livelihood.
ABS-CBN AdProm manager and Dreamscape Entertainment worker Eric John Salut stood by the hashtag and urged the network’s supporters to share it.
“Yes, #ABSCBNIsNotForSale. RETWEET KAPAMILYA,” he wrote on his account.
— EJS (@ericjohnsalut) December 30, 2019
ABS-CBN television and film director Theodore Boborol also stood by the hashtag and shared it on his own account.
— Theodore Boborol (@TheodoreBoborol) December 30, 2019
DJ Chacha of ABS-CBN’s MOR 101.9 retweeted a post that supported the network’s renewal and said she is still “hopeful” despite the looming expiration date in March.
Hopeful pa rin ako. God will make a way 🙏💛 https://t.co/wTp96nBDrD
— DJ Chacha (@mor1019chacha) December 30, 2019
Actress Agot Isidro, who is one of the administration’s vocal critics, also shared the hashtag and said that she will always be a “Kapamilya.”
Kapamilya Forever ❤️
— Agot Isidro (@agot_isidro) December 30, 2019
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines has previously called for the public to support and defend press freedom as it rallied behind ABS-CBN with the particular hashtag.
[Statement] NUJP calls on public to defend press freedom amidst Duterte's fresh tiraids vs ABS-CBN#ABSCBNIsNotForSale
— NUJP (@nujp) December 30, 2019
Administration versus ABS-CBN
Two days ago, Duterte renewed his threats against the network and added that its owners, the Lopezes, should just sell it.
In a speech during his visit to the earthquake victims of M’lang, North Cotabato, the chief executive said, “Your contract is about to expire. You will try to renew it but I don’t know what will happen to that.”
“Kung ako sa inyo ipagbili niyo na ‘yan. Kasi ang mga Filipino, ngayon lang makaganti sa inyong kalokohan. And I will make sure that you will remember this episode of our times forever,” Duterte continued.
His threats came weeks after Davao-based businessman Dennis Uy revealed his plan to venture into media and entertainment business. He has already formed a company called the Udenna Communications Media and Entertainment Holdings Corp.
It is reportedly expected to be “in close synergy” with his telecommunications company that is in partnership with China Telecommunications Corp. or China Telecom.
Duterte in an earlier speech last month said that ABS-CBN should not expect its franchise to be renewed at all.
“Ang inyong franchise mag-end next year. If you are expecting na ma-renew ‘yan, I’m sorry. You’re out. I will see to it that you’re out,” he said on December 3.
The chief executive has repeatedly claimed that the network failed to air his advertisements during the 2016 presidential campaign despite settling his payment, accusing them of “swindling.”
He has also accused ABS-CBN of supposed biased reporting.
The media giant’s franchise is set to expire on March 30, 2020. It was previously granted a term of 25 years under Republic Act 7966 that was approved on March 30, 1995.
Republic Act 3846 requires all broadcast companies, including radio and television networks, to seek a franchise from Congress before it begins to operate.