Coco Martin, Angel Aquino urge House to 'tackle ABS-CBN franchise issue'

MANILA, Philippines – Coco Martin, Angel Aquino, and other artists and members of the entertainment industry made an "urgent appeal" to the House of Representatives to tackle the franchise renewal of ABS-CBN in the 7 weeks before session adjourns.

In a January 27 letter addressed to Palawan First District Representative Franz Alvarez, chairperson for the Committee on Legislative Franchises, the artists said that "it is truly disheartening" that even after urging ABS-CBN and the House in August 2019 to tackle the franchise renewal, the issue "has not been addressed, with some 8 bills remaining pending, when the franchise is set to expire just 8 weeks from now, on March 30."

"Meanwhile, thousands of our fellow Filipinos are suffering from anxiety fearing an uncertain future," they said, appealing to the committee to consider the company's 11,000 employees, as well as the "18 million poor Filipinos" who rely on free TV and radio.

"We believe that the Committee knows that the House of Representatives, having the sole jurisdiction of granting or cancelling a legislative franchise, is also in the best position to deliberate on whatever violations the franchisee may have committed and not any other branch of government, even if it is the Office of the President, because Congress has to protect its integrity as a co-equal branch of government," they said.

"This matter is not about who owns the station, or who may be a better owner of this franchise. Let us not gamble people’s lives and future; nor the right of people to information and communication at a time when our country is confronted with so many problems. We want to believe that the good congressman and his co-members are imbued with a deep sense of obligation towards their constituency, the Filipino People," they added.

The letter was then signed by artists including Coco, Angel, Jaime Fabregas, Joel Lamangan, Bituin Escalante, Pinky Amador, Jun Sabayton, Mae Paner, Ricky Lee, Tetchie Agbayani, and the group's coordinator, filmmaker Malu Maniquis. – Rappler.com