Joel Lamangan on ABS-CBN shutdown threat: Who will tell the story of the Filipino?

MANILA, Philippines – Director Joel Lamangan made an emotional plea against threats to revoke the franchise of media giant ABS-CBN during a Senate committee hearing on Monday, February 24.

Ako po ang nalulungkot dahil, sa pagpupulong na ito, ating dini-discuss ang pagpatay sa isang plataporma na nagbibigay, naglulunsad ng kalayaan sa pananalita, kalayaan sa pamamahayag, at kalayaan sa pagpapahayag,” Lamangan said during a Senate committee on public services hearing. (READ: DOJ: Congress may authorize NTC to grant ABS-CBN provisional permit)

(I am saddened because, in this hearing, we’re discussing shutting down a platform that promotes freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of expression.)

Lamangan represented the Directors' Guild of the Philippines in the hearing. 

He later added: “’Pag nawala ang napakalaking plataporma…nakakatakot kung magagawa ito sa ABS-CBN, maaaring magawa ito sa mga maliliit na prangkisa. Sino na ang magkukuwento ng istorya natin? Baka dumating ang panahon, istorya natin ikukuwento na lang ng Beijing, ng HBO, ng CNN. Sana ’wag dumating ang panahon na iyon.”

(If we lose that big a platform…it’s harrowing to think that if this can happen to ABS-CBN, this can also happen to much smaller franchises. Who will tell our story then? The day might come that our story will be told by Beijing, HBO, or CNN. I hope it does not reach that point.)

The committee, headed by Senator Grace Poe, is conducting an investigation into the ABS-CBN’s compliance with the terms of its franchise, which is set to expire by May 4, 2020. It’s not the only threat against the network’s franchise. Solicitor General Jose Calida also filed a petition asking the Supreme Court to nullify the network’s franchise, followed by a petition for a gag order that would affect the network’s coverage of the case.

Speaking off-the-cuff, Lamangan said directors draw inspiration from real-life stories, “ang araw-araw na katotohanan na nakikita namin sa langsangan (the truths we see daily out on the streets.”

The veteran director then added: “Ang pinakamalawak na plataporma ng aming obra ay ang ABS-CBN. Ang anu mang pagkitil sa prangkisa ng ABS-CBN ay malawak na pagyurak sa karapatan sa pagpapahayag, sa pamamahayag, at karapatan ng malayang pananalita.”

(The biggest platform for our work is ABS-CBN. Denying ABS-CBN of their franchise is a curtailment everyone’s right to freedom of expression.)

Lamangan's most recent work include a web-exclusive series for ABS-CBN's iWant and a Viva movie. 

Due process 

Lamangan added that if there were irregularities in the way ABS-CBN had run its business, as alleged in Calida’s quo warranto petition, the network should be given “due process” and be allowed to answer it before the proper courts.

Tayo’y demokratiko, nakaukit sa ating Saligang Batas ang karapatang ito ng pamamahayag at pagpapahayag…. Ang aming istorya, ang aming kuwento ay tinatawag natin na artistikong expression. Ang artistikong expression ng pelikula, ng dula, ng mga panulat, ng visual art, at lahat ng iba pang sining ay kaluluwa ng bayan. Kung hindi mabigyan ng pagkakataon itong marinig at makita ng buong Pilipinas at ng ating mga kababayan sa ibang bansa, kalungkot-lungkot,” he added.

(We live in a democracy. In our Constitution, we enshrine the right to freedom of expression and freedom of speech. Our stories are a form of artistic expression. The artistic expression in film, in theater, in visual arts, and in other forms of art constitute this country’s soul. If we do not give everyone in the country and our fellowmen abroad the chance to hear and see these forms of art, it would be a sad day.)

ABS-CBN estimates that at least 11,000 individuals – more than half of them full-time employees – stand to lose their jobs should the network lose its legislative franchise. ABS-CBN is one of the Philippines’ biggest media companies. Under its belt is the ABS-CBN channel, the news channel ANC, as well as other channels devoted to music and movies. – Rappler.com

STORIES FROM THE FEBRUARY 24 SENATE HEARING: