MANILA, Philippines - Some of ABS-CBN's 11,000 workers – including many of its stars – gathered on Friday, February 21, for a candlelight vigil calling for the renewal of the network's franchise.
The vigil went around the ABS-CBN compound in Quezon City.
Photo by Jire Carreon/Rappler
Coco Martin, star of the long-running ABS-CBN teleserye Ang Probinsyano, was spotted in the crowd, along with fellow actors Shaina Magdayao and Jericho Rosales, and sportscaster Dyan Castillejo.
Jericho took to the stage to speak in support of ABS-CBN.
"Ang ABS parte ng kultura, ang ABS parte ng buhay. Kailangan ba magsara? Kailangan natin ng prangkisa. Ang tanong bakit? Karapatan natin! (ABS is part of the culture, ABS is part of life. Does it need to be shut down? We need a franchise. The question is why? It's our right!" he said.
WATCH: Jericho Rosales takes the stage at the rally for ABS CBN's franchise renewal pic.twitter.com/KHu9DQWy8R — Lian Buan (@lianbuan) February 21, 2020
The protesters wore white, along with ribbons in ABS-CBN's trademark 3 colors.
Other stars who joined the protest include Joel Torre, John Prats, Dominic Ochoa, Nikki Valdez, Angel Aquino, Rowell Santiago, Empoy Marquez, Yassi Pressman, and Franki Russell.
On Friday, John posted an Instagram photo of the ABS-CBN building during the vigil.
In the caption, he wrote: "Tanging dasal ko ay maayos na ang lahat. Huwag po sana kami tanggalan ng karapatan para makapagbigay saya at inspirasyon sa ating mga kapamilya (My only prayer is that everything goes well. I hope they don't take away our right to bring happiness and to inspire the people)."
View this post on Instagram 28 years na kapamilyaTanging dasal ko ay maayos na ang lahat. Huwag po sana kami tangalan ng karapatan para makapag bigay saya at inspirasyon sa ating mga kapamilya. Lord God kayo na po ang bahala #YesToFranchise #Kapamilya #intheserviceofthefilipinopeople A post shared by John Paulo Q. Prats (@johnprats) on Feb 21, 2020 at 3:34am PST
ABS-CBN currently faces the threat of a shutdown, as its franchise, which was approved in 1995, is set to expire on March 30. In the Philippines, broadcast companies such as radio and television networks must obtain a franchise from Congress under Republic Act No. 3846. (TIMELINE: Duterte against ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal)
The franchise bill needs the approval of 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.
But President Rodrigo Duterte has expressed that he doesn't want ABS-CBN's franchise renewed. In 2017, he accused the network of "swindling" because ABS-CBN allegedly did not air his campaign advertisements during the 2016 presidential elections.
House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano has also accused the network of supposedly giving more airtime to other candidates during the 2016 campaign period.