MANILA, Philippines – After the House committee on legislative franchises rejected the franchise renewal application of broadcast network ABS-CBN on Friday, July 10, various sectoral groups vowed to remember how the lawmakers voted.
Among the regular and honorary members of the committee who were present physically and through video call, 70 voted in favor of the technical working group's recommendation to reject the franchise renewal, 11 voted against it, 2 inhibited, and 1 abstained.
In a statement, Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO) alleged that the decision was motivated by “political interests” and “personal benefit.” (READ: 'We will fight back': Media groups slam House panel for denying ABS-CBN franchise)
“We will never forget this historic betrayal by the members of the House of Representatives.... Instead of working on genuine solutions for problematic labor practices in ABS-CBN and across the broadcast industry, the representatives that voted today did so for their own personal benefit, in accordance with the wishes of Malacañang,” the labor group said.
Another labor group, Nagkaisa, said the House panel’s decision endangered the livelihood of 11,000 workers and their families' only means of survival in this time of pandemic. (READ: After franchise rejection, ABS-CBN says: 'Kapit lang')
“ABS-CBN may not be everyone's model corporation, but none of its perceived sins justify its killing. Congress acted on a presidential order, motivated by vengeance. In doing so, it has yet again blurred the lines between co-equal branches of government,” Nagkaisa stressed.
‘Coddling Duterte’s prejudice’
The Concerned Artists of the Philippines (CAP) said the country’s largest broadcast network was “killed by those in government, starting with President Rodrigo Duterte himself whose threats triggered the turn of events leading to today.”
“The people will hold them responsible for any resulting layoffs, any denial or limitation in information, and any attacks to press freedom and expression resulting from this shutdown,” CAP continued.
ABS-CBN had been at the receiving end of President Rodrigo Duterte's attacks, with the Chief Executive himself telling ABS-CBN in December 2019 to just sell the network, as its franchise wouldn't get renewed anyway.
The network drew his ire after failing to air around P6.6 million worth of his paid political advertisements during the 2016 presidential election.
The group also commended the 11 representatives who voted against the denial of the ABS-CBN franchise.
Akbayan Youth, meanwhile, pointed out that, despite the evidence presented during the hearings, refuting the alleged violations of the media giant, “the government is coddling Duterte’s personal prejudice against the network.”
“Ang desisyon ng kongreso ay dagdag sa mahabang listahan ng patunay na hindi na ito independente mula sa opisina ng Pangulong Duterte. 'Pinakita ulit ng mga mambabatas ngayon na sila ay handang sumunod sa bawat utos at kapricho ng lumalalang diktador,” YouthResist said in a statement.
(The decision of the House adds to the long list that proves it is not independent of the office of President Duterte. The lawmakers have then again showed that they are ready to follow the orders and whims of a worsening dictator.)
Here are other statements from various youth and sectoral groups: