NUJP submits 200,000 signatures to Congress for ABS-CBN franchise renewal

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines hopes the petition will rally support behind the authors of the franchise bills seeking to continue ABS-CBN’s operations, and pressure Congress to act on the matter

Rappler.com

Published: 6:54 PM February 19, 2020

Updated: 10:51 AM February 20, 2020

STAND WITH ABS-CBN. National Union of Journalists of the Philippines submits on February 19 a partial list of petitioners who are urging Congress to renew ABS-CBN's franchise. Photo from NUJP

MANILA, Philippines– In a bid to help beleaguered broadcasting network ABS-CBN, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) submitted on Wednesday, February 19, a partial list of petitioners demanding the franchise renewal of the company.

The partial list consisted of 200,000 signatures from petitioners all over Metro Manila gathered by various organizations, alongside NUJP’s campaign on change.org. This was submitted to the members of the House of Representatives who authored bills renewing ABS-CBN's broadcast franchise.

The NUJP signature campaign started nearly a month ago at the height of reports that the Office of the Solicitor General would ask the Supreme Court to revoke the broadcast titan’s franchise.

It has also been holding weekly Friday protests to call on the government to renew the franchise, as well as gather more signatures against the ABS-CBN shutdown. (READ: 'Show of love for democracy': Groups hold Red Friday protest to support ABS-CBN)

The broadcast network has been under threat after President Rodrigo Duterte repeatedly vowed to revoke its franchise, even taunting its management to sell. This stemmed from Duterte’s accusations that the network did not run advertisements he paid for during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Exacerbating  the situation was the quo warranto case filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida against the media company, asking the justices to cancel its franchise.

“We aim to gather more in the future until such time that the network's franchise issue is positively resolved,” NUJP added.

NUJP hoped the petition signing would rally more support behind the authors of the franchise bills seeking to continue ABS-CBN’s operations, and pressure Congress to schedule their discussion and act on the matter.

ABS-CBN’s franchise will expire in just over a month. If the franchise is not renewed by March 30, and the media company is forced to cease operations, the jobs of its 11,000 employees will be severely affected.

At least 9 bills have been filed with Congress seeking the network’s franchise renewal. (READ: Duterte’s ace against ABS-CBN, the Philippines’ biggest network)

While the House of Representatives hasn’t budged in moving the franchise renewal of the network, the Senate is set to tackle it on February 24. However, the House will still need to make a decision on the matter, even if Senate finishes its work in relation to the franchise.

“We urge Congress to be independent and not be influenced by efforts in the executive and judicial branches of government to deny the network of due process. We view these to be curtailments of press freedom, coming as they are at the heels of public and repeated threats by no less than President Rodrigo Duterte,” stated NUJP.

Various media groups and advocates including Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines and Human Rights Watch have backed ABS-CBN, saying the attacks on the broadcast network threaten press freedom in the country. – Rappler.com