Two months away from the expiration of ABS-CBN’s franchise, Broadway icon Lea Salonga and actress Anne Curtis have signed a petition calling for the renewal of the media giant’s license, and are urging their followers to do the same.
The enormous news and entertainment company’s license renewal has been a matter of some speculation ever since President Rodrigo Duterte laced into the outlet for failing to air his campaign ads when he was still a candidate. In recent months, however, celebrities linked to the network have sought to lend their star power to efforts to save it, with Salonga and Curtis adding their voices to the chorus.
“Yes, I have personal and professional reasons for this one. Not gonna lie,” Salonga tweeted on Sunday.
Yes, I have personal and professional reasons for this one. Not gonna lie. https://t.co/tuj4QWvquu
— Lea Salonga (@MsLeaSalonga) January 19, 2020
Then today, Curtis wrote, “Please sign the petition. So many lives will be affected by the jobs that will be lost.”
Please sign the petition.
So many lives will be affected by the jobs that will be lost 💔https://t.co/3KZZr8zhZS
— Anne Curtis-Smith (@annecurtissmith) January 20, 2020
Both female personalities are ABS-CBN mainstays: Curtis, a host of noontime program It’s Showtime!, and Salonga, a resident judge of The Voice and The Voice Kids. Their call for followers to sign the petition aims to raise 1 million signatures urging Congress to renew the network’s franchise. As of press time, the petition had attracted over 82,000 signatures.
The petition was started by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) on Jan. 17, which has been promoting the hashtag #NoToABSCBNShutdown.
In a statement on Friday, NUJP wrote that the petition is part of its continued “campaign to thwart Duterte’s continuing threat to shut down ABS-CBN and suppress critical media.”
“Should [the] government succeed, a vital voice in Philippine media will be lost and thousands of our colleagues lose their jobs,” the statement reads. “We call on Congress to do what is right and immediately pass the bill to renew ABS-CBN’s franchise.”
NUJP also added that it was “dismayed” that House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano admitted that he too held a grudge against the media company, which made him hesitant to support the license’s renewal.
“[W]e continue to hope that you, the elected representatives of the people, can rise above your leader’s petty vindictiveness and strike a blow in defense of freedom of the press and of expression,” they said.
“At the very least, if the president is really hellbent on shutting down ABS-CBN, let him bear full responsibility by passing the bill renewing the network’s franchise and let him veto it if he dares to. Do not be accomplices in the rape of democracy.”
Back in November, House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, a Duterte ally, said he was hesitant to support the renewal of the franchise on personal grounds, adding that there was “more than enough time” to discuss the renewal in the House early this year.
ABS-CBN’s franchise is set to expire on March 30 this year, and President Rodrigo Duterte has openly voiced his dislike for the station for a while, calling it a thief after it refused to run his 2016 campaign ads.
On Dec. 30, Duterte reiterated his vow to block the franchise renewal in a speech to earthquake victims in Mindanao. He said it was unlikely that Congress would renew ABS-CBN’s franchise and, in fact, it was better for ABS-CBN to just sell the network.
“ABS-CBN, your contract will expire. You want to renew, but I don’t know if that will happen. If I were you, I’d sell it,” Duterte said.
Assuming ABS-CBN is shuttered, around 6,730 regular workers, 900 contract workers, and 3,325 on-air “talents” will lose their jobs.
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