ABS-CBN workers, backers ready caravan to House to press for new franchise
MANILA, Philippines—ABS-CBN employees and supporters will troop to the House of Representatives early on Thursday (July 9) to press lawmakers to approve a new 25-year franchise for the broadcast giant which President Rodrigo Duterte once asked to shut down.
According to the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines (NUJP), the caravan would travel from ABS-CBN’s Esguerra Gate in Quezon City to the House’s Gate 1. A program would be held around 10:30 a.m.
The caravan is one of several activities launched by ABS-CBN supporters since the network faced its biggest assault since it was shuttered by the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos in the early days of martial law.
The National Telecommunications Commission had issued an order for the network to cease television and radio broadcasting on free and pay TV after Solicitor General Jose Calida sought to rescind the network’s franchise through a quo warranto case filed at the Supreme Court and which had been dismissed for being moot.
No schedule had been set for House members to vote on the bill granting a new franchise to ABS-CBN, which has sat in the lower chamber of Congress for months without action. It is uncertain still if the bill would pass the committee level.
The NTC issued the cease and desist order after the network’s franchise lapsed on May 4. This came after the NTC had given Congress leaders an assurance that ABS-CBN would be allowed to continue broadcasting while the lower chamber of Congress deliberated on the new franchise.
Calida, however, warned the NTC against giving ABS-CBN a provisional authority to operate as it would be usurping Congress’ power to issue franchises.
NTC Deputy Commissioner Edgardo Cabarios had said in an interview over ABS-CBN’s radio station dzMM that the order was issued because of “questions” on the validity of ABS-CBN’s franchise, which was the subject of Calida’s petition at the Supreme Court.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.