MANILA, Philippines – The star of what is, arguably, one of the most popular and enduring shows on Philippine television joined a protest against the threat of a shutdown of the country’s biggest media network.
Actor Coco Martin joined fellow ABS-CBN stars on Friday, February 21, as different groups – from labor unions, journalists, and human rights groups – staged a protest in front of one of the media giant’s gates.
Martin is the star of FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano, one of ABS-CBN’s longest running shows. In it, he plays a cop-turned-pseudo vigilante who works against government corruption.
“Kinakailangan namin ipakita ang aming suporta, hindi lang bilang mga taong nagtratrabaho sa ABS-CBN, kung hindi ang lahat ng mga Pilipino (We have to show our support not just as employees of ABS-CBN but as Filipinos),” Martin said in a live interview with ABS-CBN reporter Jeff Canoy on the network’s flagship news program TV Patrol.
“Hindi natin dapat pigilan ang tao makapagsalita…. Kailangan maging malaya pa rin tayo sa kung ano ang opinyon natin at saloobin natin. Kailangang mapanindigan natin at masabi natin kung ano ang nararamdaman natin tungkol sa nangyayari sa ating bansa,” he added.
(We should not stop people from speaking up….. We need to be free in expressing our opinions and thoughts. We need to stand up for what we believe in and be able to express what we feel about what’s happening in the country.)
It’s the first time for ABS-CBN’s biggest entertainment stars to join a protest calling for thei network’s franchise renewal.
In the past weeks, the network’s biggest stars, Martin included, had come out on social media to defend ABS-CBN amid threats to either revoke its legislative franchise or deny its renewal.
ABS-CBN’s legislative franchise will be expiring by late March 2020 but Congress has yet to act on bills that would renew it. Under the law, broadcast companies such as radio and television networks must obtain a franchise from Congress. The franchise bill needs approval by the House of Representatives before it is forwarded to the Senate. A version of the bill approved by both the House and the Senate will still require presidential approval.
President Rodrigo Duterte himself has threatened to stop the ABS-CBN franchise renewal several times, though Malacañang has repeatedly denied that the President has a hand in the House of Representative’s foot-dragging on the measure.
Early in his administration Duterte accused the network of not airing his political ads during the 2016 elections, which he won by a landslide. – Rappler.com