MANILA, Philippines – The National Union of Journalists in the Philippines (NUJP), ABS-CBN employees, and rights groups gathered to support the media giant hours after Solicitor General Jose Calida filed a quo warranto petition against it. (READ: Void ABS-CBN franchise, Calida asks Supreme Court)
On Monday evening, February 10, members of the media, ABS-CBN staff, and supporters held candles to call for justice and the renewal of ABS-CBN's media franchise.
The government's actions against a media company "imbued with public interest" was a direct attack on press freedom, said NUJP Deputy Secretary General Raymund Villanueva,
Filipinos will also lose a source of entertainment and humanitarian services, he said, should the franchise not be renewed. (FAST FACTS: What you should know about ABS-CBN)
"Iba yung kadiliman ang maidudulot sa atin sa bawat isang media organization na hindi na makakapaghatid ng balita, lalong-lalo na kung ito ay kritikal o itinuturo kung ano ang mali at itinuturo kung ano ang tama sa ating lipunan," said Villanueva.
(We will experience darkness with every media organization that will not be able to deliver the news anymore, especially if the organization is critical or points out injustices or what's being done right in our society.)
Aside from NUJP, rights groups present were the College Editors Guild of the Philippines, Photojournalists Center of the Philippines, Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines, Defend Jobs Philippines, and Altermidya.
This is the 5th week in a row that NUJP has organized a rally to protest the inaction of government officials on the renewal of ABS-CBN's franchise. (TIMELINE: Duterte against ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal)
Earlier that day, Calida's petition moved to void ABS-CBN's franchise, accusing them of "highly abusive practices benefitting a greedy few at the expense of millions of its loyal subscribers."
He also accused them of foreign ownership, citing the network's Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDRs).
ABS-CBN's franchise expires in March 30, but the House of Representatives has not moved to discuss any of the House bills filed for its renewal.
If none of the bills are passed into law, ABS-CBN will be forced to close down its radio and television operations. It may, however, still be able to operate by distributing its content via other media platforms such as on a website.
ABS-CBN's franchise renewal has been strongly opposed by President Rodrigo Duterte, who accused the network of not running advertisements he paid for during the 2016 presidential campaign. – Rappler.com