ABS-CBN

Support for ABS-CBN endures 1 year since House killed its franchise bid

Dwight de Leon
Support for ABS-CBN endures 1 year since House killed its franchise bid

STILL OFF-AIR. Individuals from different media organizations led by the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines gather at the ABS-CBN headquarters in Quezon City to light candles and protest as they commemorate the first anniversary of the broadcast giant's shutdown on Wednesday, May 5, 2021.

Angie de Silva/Rappler

The hashtag #IbalikangABSCBN is trending on July 10, exactly one year since the Duterte-allied House of Representatives dashed the media giant's hopes of returning to free TV

Filipinos online renewed their call for the Duterte government to allow ABS-CBN to operate again on free television, exactly one year since the administration-allied House of Representatives overwhelmingly rejected the media giant’s bid for a fresh franchise.

ABS-CBN personalities marked the anniversary with a recollection of June 10, 2020, and by using the trending hashtag #IbalikangABSCBN (bring back ABS-CBN).

“After months of torture and empty promises, July 10, 2020 [came], the day they left ABS-CBN out to die,” reporter Anjo Bagaoisan tweeted on Saturday. “Yet we will never forget.”

Television director Theodore Boborol meanwhile reminded the public of the 70 lawmakers who voted to deny ABS-CBN a new franchise. Only 11 voted otherwise.

A special report by ABS-CBN News noted that the House has yet to release an official list of lawmakers who voted for or against ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal application, and that the unofficial list circulating online was only vetted by the organization’s sources from the House.

News anchor Mike Navallo meanwhile shared ABS-CBN’s tweet commemorating the anniversary of the non-renewal of its franchise. 

“’Di aatras. ‘Di pasisiil. Tuloy ang laban (We won’t back down. We won’t be suppressed. The fight continues),” Navallo said.

Supporters of the network also used the hashtag #Halalan2022 alongside #IbalikangABSCBN to remind the public that they have the power to change things in 2022.

“Vote them out,” one netizen tweeted, referring to the 70 lawmakers who killed ABS-CBN’s hopes of returning to free TV.

In solidarity

Former vice president Jejomar Binay called the non-renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise “an injustice that can only be remedied by the grant of a new franchise.”

Binay, however, admitted that such a possibility is a far-fetched dream under the current political climate.

“The closure of ABS-CBN is an injustice that can only be remedied by the grant of a new franchise. But that will not happen under the present dispensation, or under a new one that is similarly intolerant of criticism and the exercise of constitutionally-guaranteed freedoms,” Binay said in a statement on Saturday.

Binay asserted that while ABS-CBN remains off free television since the Philippine telco regulator shut down the media giant on May 5, 2020, the network continues to thrive.

“The men and women of ABS-CBN continue to report the news despite the odds. And journalists from other media entities pursue their work even in the face of intimidation and overt acts of violence,” Binay said.

House Deputy Speaker Rufus Rodriguez shared Binay’s sentiments, and warned that “justice will be served.”

Kabataan Representative Sarah Elago paid tribute to those who have continued to fight for ABS-CBN’s franchise and urged them, “Huwag tayo mawawalan ng pag-asa sa ating sama-sama at organisadong lakas (Let’s not lose hope in our collective, organized strength.”

The House’s decision on July 10, 2020 resulted in the retrenchment of nearly half of ABS-CBN’s 11,000 employees, and the closure of several of the company’s offices, including regional network groups that have been instrumental in information dissemination in far-flung areas.

Critics and observers thought of the closure as a retaliation against the network by President Rodrigo Duterte, who repeatedly accused ABS-CBN of biased reporting.

Since its shutdown, ABS-CBN has pivoted from free television programming to digital broadcast operations. – Rappler.com

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Dwight de Leon

Dwight de Leon is a multimedia reporter who covers local government units and the Commission on Elections for Rappler.