ABS-CBN workers thank Duterte for accepting apology, urge House to tackle franchise bills

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 28 2020 01:27 PM | Updated as of Feb 28 2020 02:18 PM

Employees and supporters of ABS-CBN Corp. gather in front of the network's headquarters in Quezon City on Feb. 21, 2020 to show support and call on congress to renew the broadcaster's franchise. Jire Carreon, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — Workers of ABS-CBN Corp on Friday thanked President Rodrigo Duterte for accepting the network's apology over offense for a 2016 campaign placed by a critic, as they asked lawmakers to grant the network a new franchise. 

The broadcast license of the country's largest media and entertainment company will expire on May 4. Duterte on Wednesday said a new franchise would be up to lawmakers to decide. 

"Dahil sa inyong pagtugon nabuhayan kami ng loob lalo't matagal na naming kinikimkim ang mga agam-agam hinggil sa aming trabaho at kinabukasan," the ABS-CBN Rank and File Employees' Union told Duterte in a statement. 
 
(Because of your response, we were relieved especially since we have long been concerned for our jobs and future.) 

During a Senate hearing on Monday, ABS-CBN president and CEO Carlo Katigbak apologized “if we offended the President” over a 2016 election ad that showed video of Duterte cursing and making inappropriate gestures with clips of children asking if his actions were right. 

The network was “just abiding by the laws and regulations that surround the airing of political ads,” Katigbak said during a Senate hearing into ABS-CBN's franchise compliance. 

Before the public apology, Duterte made several pronouncements opposing ABS-CBN's franchise. On Wednesday, he accepted the apology and told the network to give to charity a P2.6-million refund for his unaired local ads. 

The House of Representatives has yet to tackle several bills seeking the renewal of ABS-CBN's license to operate. The Senate held a hearing on Monday on the network's compliance with its current franchise, where ABS-CBN executives clarified it did not violate franchise provisions. 

The ABS-CBN workers' union asked House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and House franchise committee chair Franz Alvarez to discuss and approve the network's license bills. 

"Mga kagalang-galang na kongresista, sana'y maintindihan ninyo na mga ordinaryong manggagawa lamang kami ng ABS-CBN. Dito po sa aming kumpanya nakasalalay ang kinabuksan ng labing-isang libong empleyado at maging ang kinabukasan ng aming mga kapamilya," the group said. 

(Esteemed members of Congress, please understand that we're just ordinary workers of ABS-CBN. The future of 11,000 workers and our families depend on the company.) 

ABS-CBN is also facing a challenge lodged before the Supreme Court by Solicitor General Jose Calida. The government's lead lawyer sought to nullify ABS-CBN's franchise due to alleged abuses like illegal pay-per-view offering and foreign ownership. 

The network, which reaches millions of Filipinos through its television, radio and online platforms, said it "did not violate the law" in its 65-year service. 

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