'It can happen to everybody': Kapamilya celebs speak up for ABS-CBN franchise renewal

John Gabriel Agcaoili, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 21 2020 10:56 PM | Updated as of Feb 22 2020 01:27 AM

QUEZON CITY (UPDATE)- Kapamilya celebrities on Friday marched alongside employees of ABS-CBN Corp at its headquarters in Quezon City in support of the media giant’s bid to renew its franchise amid threats of a shutdown.

Mostly clad in white, several actors including Coco Martin, Jericho Rosales, Yassi Pressman, Rowell Santiago, Jaime Fabregas, Angel Aquino, John Pratts, and Joel Torre took part in the gathering, joining a human chain around the network’s compound while holding candles as a symbol of unity at the event past sundown.

Fabregas, one of the Philippines' respected and established actors, said it's disappointing that a public service institution like ABS-CBN is facing possible shutdown for the "wrong reasons."

"Kung tama lang sana, kung pinapadaan nila sa proseso, okay lang. Pero kung dinadaan nila sa brasuhan, 'yan naman po ay 'di tama," he told ABS-CBN News.

If ABS-CBN gets shut down, the country will have no transparency, as the country needs an independent media that reports misdeeds regardless of who committed it, said Fabregas.

"Kasi ang mangyayari niyan eh, wala na tayong check and balance niyan eh. Kung hawak na nila lahat, wala ng mangyayari sa lipunan natin. 'Di lang para sa mga artista or workers ng ABS-CBN 'yan, kasi sa tingin ko, ito'y umpisa pa lang. Kapag nanalo sila dito, itutuloy nila yung iba pa," he said.

The veteran actor said those who are "fence-sitting" or hesitating to act on the network's franchise bill due to supposed pressure from the government should think long and hard of the consequences of an ABS-CBN shutdown.

"Dito pa lang dapat matalo na sila," Fabregas said, adding that he hopes the government will get "enlightenment."

ABS-CBN celebrities show their support for the broadcast company's franchise renewal during a rally around its premises in Quezon City on Friday, Feb. 21, 2020. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

ABS-CBN celebrities show their support for the broadcast company's franchise renewal during a rally around its premises in Quezon City on Friday, Feb. 21, 2020. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

ABS-CBN celebrities show their support for the broadcast company's franchise renewal during a rally around its premises in Quezon City on Friday, Feb. 21, 2020. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

ABS-CBN celebrities show their support for the broadcast company's franchise renewal during a rally around its premises in Quezon City on Friday, Feb. 21, 2020. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

ABS-CBN celebrities show their support for the broadcast company's franchise renewal during a rally around its premises in Quezon City on Friday, Feb. 21, 2020. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

ABS-CBN celebrities show their support for the broadcast company's franchise renewal during a rally around its premises in Quezon City on Friday, Feb. 21, 2020. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

Aquino, a fashion model and multi-awarded actress, said the current situation of ABS-CBN is a sign of "suppression of freedom of expression."

"If it can happen to us, it can happen to everybody," she said.

She had a message for the government: "It's unconstitutional what you are doing. Sana 'yung mga naka-upo pag-isipan nila ng mabuti 'yung ginagawa nila sa'tin at sa buong bayan."

Torre, a respected actor and producer, also said the government's reason behind its move to reject the franchise renewal has "no basis."

"Ito ay pagtapak sa karapatan natin sa industriya. Ang trabaho naman talaga ng industriya is to inform the public, educate the public, entertain, and to expose whatever needs to be exposed," Torre said.

The government should "play fair" and not use its power on the issue, he added.

Screen veteran Mon Confiado also called on the government "not to be too personal" with ABS-CBN.

"Sana malinawan na ang Pangulo natin, malinawan na ang Senado, Kongreso, at sana eh 'wag nila ipagkait ang gusto ng mamayang Pilipino."

Pratts -- who has been an actor, comedian, dancer and TV host for 28 years with ABS-CBN -- said he has never experienced anything like the situation the broadcast giant is facing now.

"This is the first time I've experienced this. Kaming mga artista, tayong lahat ng mga empleyado, all we do is to entertain our Kapamilyas. 'Yung lang naman 'yung sa 'tin, magbigay ng hope, inspiration, happiness sa kanila. That's why we do comedies, we do dramas, we do news. Sayang dahil matatanggalan ng madaming tao na mabigyan ng opportunity na maibigay 'yon sa ating mga Kapamilya," he said.

"Hopefully, I pray na hindi na matuloy [yung shutdown]. Sana madaan sa maayos na usapan."

Empoy Marquez, known for his humor and witty lines, hopes "everyone will be enlightened" on the issue facing the firm.

"Tayo ay iisang Pilipino at tayo ay dapat magtulungan. Kung ano man yung mga problema, mapaguusapan naman 'yan, ayusin na lang. [What's] important is, and pagpray natin kay God. Siya ang nakakaalam ng lahat," he said.

President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly threatened to deny ABS-CBN a new franchise after the expiry of its current broadcast license on March 30 of this year, accusing the company of failing to air his campaign ads for the 2016 elections.

The country's top lawyer, Solicitor General Jose Calida, had initiated a move to invalidate the current franchise of ABS-CBN by filing a quo warranto petition at the Supreme Court over alleged violations by the network in the terms of its franchise and of the foreign ownership regulation.

ABS-CBN has said it did not violate any law in its years of service.

Meanwhile, a Senate committee is looking to jumpstart deliberations on the franchise renewal of ABS-CBN on Monday, in which the firm's executives and representatives of other broadcast networks, whose franchises had been extended pending renewal, are invited.

news.abs-cbn.com is the official news website of ABS-CBN Corp.