MANILA — "I'm sorry they aren't sorry."
These were the words of actress Liza Soberano to ABS-CBN employees on Friday, as the Philippines' largest broadcast network was denied by Congress a fresh 25-year franchise, jeopardizing some 11,000 jobs amid the coronavirus crisis.
"Wish I could hug everyone I love from ABS-CBN right now," Soberano tweeted, moments after the House legislative franchises committee, in a vote of 70-11, "killed" the network's franchise application.
The decision effectively shuts down ABS-CBN's free-TV and radio broadcast for good, over two months since it was issued a cease-and-desist order by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) over an expired franchise.
ABS-CBN had been trying to renew its franchise since 2014, but faced several roadblocks, especially under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, who had repeatedly promised to close it down.
"To all the employees who are greatly affected by this. I'm sorry. I'm sorry they aren't sorry," Soberano wrote, referring to lawmakers who blocked ABS-CBN's restoration on air.
Soberano, 22, has been one of the most vocal supporters of ABS-CBN amid its franchise woes. As early as January, Soberano was among the first high-profile celebrities to make a public appeal to Duterte in light of his pronouncements against ABS-CBN.
"To all the supporters of ABS-CBN, its programs, and its talents who stood by us through this journey, thank you," Soberano said. "Thank you for the endless tweets using the hashtags and thank you for your prayers. We may not be able to repay you right now, but in due time."
Soberano went on to thank her supporters, who have followed her acting career since 2011. She is one-half of the popular "LizQuen" tandem, with her real-life boyfriend Enrique Gil.
"Especially to all my supporters, Liza and LizQuen fanmily. Just reading your tweets right now brings tears to my eyes. Thank you for believing in me and for supporting my projects under ABS-CBN. I will forever be grateful to each and everyone. I love you all so much," she wrote.