MANILA, Philippines – Calling her city the “bastion of freedom,” Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte expressed support for ABS-CBN in its bid for a franchise renewal.
Belmonte expressed her support for the media giant on Thursday night, February 13, amid concerns over the fate of ABS-CBN and its thousands of employees after Solicitor General Jose Calida filed a quo warranto petition against the network.
“By tradition, Quezon City is also known as a bastion of freedom, knowledge, and diversity, and the presence of multiple media networks in QC embodies these values. For this reason, we stand by and fully support ABS-CBN in its pursuit of a fresh 25-year franchise to operate,” Belmonte said.
She also cited the media giant’s “long-standing relationship” with Quezon City, as one of its top taxpayers and the company’s programs in the city.
“Aside from being one of our city’s top taxpayers, ABS-CBN employs thousands of our city’s constituents, whose families would suffer should its legislative franchise not be renewed,” she said.
Belmonte enumerated ABS-CBN’s multiple partnerships and programs with Quezon City, such as the establishment of the Eugenio Lopez Jr.Center for Media Arts Senior High School and the Bantay Bata 163 Children’s Village.
She also cited the city’s projects with the late environment champion Gina Lopez, former chairperson of ABS-CBN Foundation Incorporated, such as cleanup of waterways and the preservation of the La Mesa Ecopark. There are moves to rename the latter as the Gina Lopez Ecopark.
“Bilang mahalagang kapamilya natin sa paglilingkod sa bayan, kaisa tayo ng ABS-CBN sa kanilang hangarin na maipagpatuloy ang pagsisilbi at pagbibigay ng saya sa mga Pilipino (As an important partner in serving our nation, we are one with ABS-CBN in their desire to continue to serve and give joy to Filipinos),” Belmonte said.
Calida had accused ABS-CBN of “unlawfully exercising their legislative franchises” and having a form of foreign ownership through issuing Philippine Depositary Receipts to foreigners. The company had denied all allegations.
As of February 11, the Supreme Court asked ABS-CBN to submit its comment to the quo warranto petition within 10 days.
Speaker Alan Cayetano had thumbed down calls to expedite the passage of the bill renewing the franchise of ABS-CBN, which will expire on March 30. – with reports from Loreben Tuquero/Rappler.com