ABS-CBN’s franchise woes: Jobs of thousands, ‘joy’ of millions on the line

February 11, 2020 - 7:20 PM
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The livelihood of at least 10,000 workers is at stake because of the legal remedy the government used against ABS-CBN’s broadcast operations.

This was among the concerns of press advocates rallying against the possible revocation of the broadcast giant’s franchise due to the quo warranto petition Solicitor General Jose Calida filed last Monday.

The quo warranto petition was the same legal remedy Calida previously used to oust Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno in 2018.

This move was made even if the network’s franchise is about to expire in a few weeks and while the proposal to renew it for another 25 years is still pending in the Congress.

Non-profit labor group Defend Job Philippines stressed the impact of shutting down ABS-CBN’s radio and television operations on the Philippine labor sector.

“Being the leading media network in the country employing more than 10,000 workers, the non-renewal and shutdown of ABS-CBN will mean massive termination in the Philippine labor sector nationwide,” said Thadeus Ifurung, the group’s spokesperson.

“While we acknowledge different labor issues of Kapamilya workers, it doesn’t equate to the non-renewal of ABS-CBN franchise as thousands of families still rely their livelihood and source of income to the TV and radio network firm,” he added.

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The Photojournalists Center of the Philippines also echoed the same sentiments, citing the damage the non-renewal of the company will have on the Filipino public.

“Reporters, photographers, cameramen, artists, technical crew and media professionals stand to lose their jobs if ABS-CBN shuts down,” PCP said.

“Everybody connected to their principals at ABS-CBN as assistants, contributors, suppliers, and others, numbering probably tenfold of the 11,000 employees of the media outfit, will also be affected,” it added.

The hashtags #NotoABSCBNShutdown and #IStandwithABSCBN trended anew on Twitter Philippines.

Comedian and TV host Vice Ganda surprisingly showed support to his employer as well.

ALSO READ: Potential ABS-CBN shutdown a loss for Filipino audiences and culture, too, scholars note

There were, however, also online posts that sided with ABS-CBN’s closure, citing alleged tax evasions and other claims.

They ran with the hashtags #YesToABSCBNShutDown and ShutdownABSCBN also on the microblogging platform.

In the service of the Filipino people 

In the petition, Calida alleged that the company is not operating legally because of its supposed foreign ownership and illegal operations setup.

ABS-CBN denied all the allegations indicated in the petition, stressing that it did not violate any laws for its operations on radio and television.

All of ABS-CBN’s social media properties later changed profile pictures with the motto “In the service of the Filipino people” against a black background.

Several journalists and advocates also called on Filipinos to support the firm’s franchise renewal.

The motto was uttered by its first chairman Eugenio Lopez Jr. in 1967 and has since become the network’s tagline.

ABS-CBN’s profile picture on its social media accounts (ABS-CBN/Released)

ABS-CBN broadcast journalists such as Jervis Manahan, Jacque Manabat, Karen Davila and Chiara Zambrano also made similar posts showing solidarity on the rights to press freedom on their accounts.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines and the National Union of People’s Lawyers earlier viewed the use of the quo warranto petition as disrespectful to the private entity’s freedom of expression and public speech.

The Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines called on the Supreme Court and Congress to act independently as co-equal branches of the government.

“We call on Congress to act independently. We call on our Supreme Court Justices to side with the people’s right to truthful and independent news, the Constitution and democracy,”  FOCAP said.