Alliance of Health Workers dismayed at denial of new franchise for ABS-CBN
MANILA, Philippines — The Alliance of Health Workers (AHW) slammed the House of Representatives on Monday for junking ABS-CBN’s application for a new franchise, saying that the network had been of service to those in the medical field.
“Their [the lawmakers’] votes are inconsistent with the sentiment and preference of their constituents being represented. Instead, it is based on their narrow personal interests and the interests of their political allies with personal hatred to seek revenge on ABS-CBN management,” Robert Mendoza, AHW national president, said in a statement posted on the group’s Facebook page.
“At the expense of millions of Filipino families, including health workers who have been deprived of the services, news, shows, entertainment, information knowledge and wisdom that ABS-CBN brings to the masses in the most far-flung and remote areas in the country and beyond the sea,” he added.
According to a survey conducted by Social Weather Stations (SWS), 76 percent of Filipinos want Congress to renew ABS-CBN’s franchise, while 56 percent consider the network’s lack of a franchise a blow to press freedom.
The survey, taken through mobile phone interviews from July 3 to 6, was released after 70 members of the House Committee on Legislative Franchises — including House officials who are ex-officio members — voted in favor of the technical working group report junking ABS-CBN’s 25-year franchise bid.
According to Mendoza, AHW members believe that ABS-CBN’s fate was already decided despite its officials being able to answer queries on various issues thrown against the network.
The group also echoed the view that shutting down ABS-CBN was a blow to press freedom, as the network hasd been associated with coverage critical of President Rodrigo Duterte — who had repeatedly vowed to see to it would be out of the industry.
“AHW sympathizes with the more than 11,000 employees who will lose their jobs. Instead of addressing the worsening poverty and unemployment, the lawmakers and the Duterte government has further plunged the Filipino people into death and extreme poverty and hunger,” Mendoza said.
“This is a clear step by the Duterte administration to kill the freedom of expression, democracy and press freedom. Ultimately, we have nothing else to lean and hold on to but on our collective action and unity to resist tyranny,” he added.
The ABS-CBN issue drew different reactions from people, even among relatives the of lawmakers who voted to deny the network’s bid for a new franchise.
Mikee Defensor, daughter of Anakalusugan Rep. Mike Defensor, who was among those who voted to deny the franchise bid, aired her side on Twitter as people speculated that she was on the same side as her father.
“But I think that to assume that we share the same opinion is unfair. I’ve had my own share of arguments and debates in my own home in order to prevent all this from happening,” Mikee said in a tweet shared by various personalities from politics and entertainment.
“But at the end of the day, I’m not the one in Congress. And more importantly, I am NOT my father. My heart goes out to those who are greatly affected by this, most especially the 11,000 workers who have lost their jobs in the middle of a pandemic,” she added.