Feast of the Black Nazarene

Kathryn Bernardo on ABS-CBN shutdown: ‘Ang choice, ‘di lang dapat sa may pera’

Bea Cupin

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Kathryn Bernardo on ABS-CBN shutdown: ‘Ang choice, ‘di lang dapat sa may pera’
The actress urges Filipinos – the youth, especially – to stand up for what's right and to not be afraid like she was

MANILA, Philippines – It took her over a week to speak up but when she did, actress Kathryn Bernardo left no stone unturned when she discussed, for the first time, a government order that forced media giant ABS-CBN to go off-air for the first time since Martial Law.

In a video posted on Wednesday, May 13, Kathryn tackled the ABS-CBN shutdown and how it’s a labor, public health and press freedom issue. “Tayong mga Pilipino, sana matuto tayong manindigan sa kung ano ang tama (We Filipinos must learn to stand up for what is right),” said Kathryn in an 8 minute video posted on her official Instagram account.

What’s happening? ABS-CBN was forced to shut down following a cease and desist order from the National Telecommunications Commission. ABS-CBN’s franchise had expired because Congress failed to act, despite several pending bills that would have granted it a new franchise.

The day Kathryn released her video, the House of Representatives passed on 2nd reading a bill that would grant the network provisional or temporary license to operate.

Who is Kathryn? The actress is among the country’s biggest stars and was due to lead in a new television series before the pandemic was declared. She is also one of the network’s most bankable stars.

In 2019, she starred in Hello, Love, Goodbye with GMA-7 superstar Alden Richards. The movie, produced by ABS-CBN Films, is the highest-grossing Filipino movie ever.


What did she say? She used a line from this movie as a point of reflection in her video.

In Hello, Love, Goodbye, Kathryn’s character, the ambitious and family-centered Joy tells a considerably more carefree Ethan (played by Alden): “Ang choice, para lang sa may pera.” (Choice is only for the rich.)

Kathryn went on to say that shutting ABS-CBN down means depriving many Filipinos of an information source when it’s most crucial – in the middle of a pandemic. In many parts of the Philippines, ABS-CBN is the only free option to get both news entertainment. Signal and accessibility remains an issue for many parts of the Philippines.

“‘Wag na po natin palalain ang inequality. Ang choice, di lang ‘yan dapat sa may pera,” said Kathryn. (Let’s not make the inequality even worse. Choice shouldn’t only be for the rich.)

The actress also pointed out that the ABS-CBN closure is also a labor issue (the network has over 11,000 workers), a public health issue (because removing the network from the airwaves means depriving many of a crucial news source), and a press freedom issue (because people are robbed of the platform and means to express themselves).

She ended her video by calling on “those in power” to give attention to what’s best for the majority. She also called on Filipinos to “learn to stand up for what’s right (sana matuto tayong manindigan sa kung ano ang tama)” and “use their voices to responsibly air their sentiments (magamit natin yung boses natin para mapahayag ng responsable kung ano mga saluobin natin).”

Kathryn also had a special message for the youth: “Sana wag kayong matakot. Kasi kagaya niyo rin ako, natakot ako. Pero kung hindi kasi tayo magsasalita ngayon… tayo yung magmamana ng Pilipinas kaya may karapatan tayo.”

(Don’t be afraid. I’m just like you, I am afraid too. But if we don’t speak now… remember that we the future of the Philippines is at stake and we have a right to speak up.)

What took so long? The actress started the video with an explanation on why it took her over a week to speak up. She said the last time she made a political statement, it was a “traumatic” experience. Kathryn was presumably referring to her endorsement of Mar Roxas during the 2016 elections.

Pero ngayon, andito ako kasi pakiramdam, ko kailangan. Pakiramdam ko kahit walang kasiguraduhan na marinig ito, at least may ginawa. Pakiramdam ko, kailangan ko maging boses ng iba,” she said.

(But I’m here because I feel that I should. Even if I’m not sure if my voice will be heard, at least I tried. I think I need to be the voice of those without.)

What now? The day Kathryn posted her video, the House of Representatives passed on 2nd reading a bill that would grant ABS-CBN temporary authority to go back on air. If the measure is passed on third reading, it will next go to the Senate for approval. A bicameral session composed of members the House and Senate will prepare the final version of the bill, which will be sent to President Rodrigo Duterte for signature. Duterte himself earlier threatened to block ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal. – Rappler.com

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.