BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – Local employees of media giant ABS-CBN, friends and supporters of the network continue to hope even as they expressed pain and surprise on social media shortly after the House of Representatives voted, 70-11, at the level of the House franchise committee to deny the renewal of the Lopez-owned franchise for another 25 years.
The House Committee on Legislative Franchises earlier today adopted House Resolution denying the application of ABS-CBN “to construct, install, establish, operate and maintain radio and broadcasting stations in the country”, the House FB page says.
“Kasakit (Painful),” a Bacolod law student and former online content writer of ABS-CBN said in her Facebook post.
“I hold on to my faith. I will keep fighting as I and the rest of the 11,000 continue to do public service. I am looking forward to a plot twist.”
This was what ABS-CBN senior reporter Yasmin Pascual Dormido posted on her Facebook wall minutes after the House of Representatives voted 70-11 against the renewal of the network’s franchise
Various ABS-CBN employees showed what they felt through their FB page.
Pascual-Dormido, who had also been posting updates of the series of hearings on her wall, remains hopeful.
Another ABS-CBN employee, Angelo Angolo, meanwhile, posted this: “Family and friends, whatever happens to ABS-CBN franchise, I would like to let you know that I appreciate all your support and encouragement all this time…
As our congressmen come to a vote today, let us all take part in this historic event… I appeal to all of you LET US MAKE A STAND AND SEND THEM A CLEAR AND SOLID MESSAGE – #IbalikangABSCBN.”
Another ABS-CBN employee posted a heart in red-green-blue (the network’s colors) broken in half.
Earlier, the same employee posted, “Nasubuan ko ah (I am saddened)” with multiple crying emojis. The post was punctuated with the hash tag #GrabeNgaPagpigos (#GraveOppression).
Former ABS-CBN Bacolod Regional Sales Head and now Cebu Station Head Leilani Salem-Alba also posted the broken heart logo.
Salem-Alba had been with ABS-CBN Bacolod as reporter and later on station head before her transfer to Cebu.
City Councilor Wilson Gamboa, Jr. expressed disappointment with the decision.
“I am not in favor of the non-renewal,” he said. The move is a clear curtailment of press freedom, political harassment, and abuse of power.
“This is a sad day for democracy and for all the workers of ABS-CBN who lost their jobs,” Joel Tambuson, a philosophy instructor told DNX.
“We have prepared for this a long time ago; I have long been in warrior mode,” a senior reporter, one of at least 80 employees here, told DNX.
Another younger reporter tried to brush off the developments and sounded optimistic.
“I am okay but it would be really difficult for those who are not regular employees,” he said.
Tambuson sounded irate in an interview with DNX as he laid the blame squarely on the doorsteps of Malacanang.
“It is obvious the President is responsible for this; that much was obvious when Senator (Ronaldo) Bato (Dela Rosa) said ABS CBN workers who will lose their jobs must start to look for new ones,” he said.
That means the (Duterte) government had already known that it had the numbers as early as yesterday,” Tambuson added.
Provincial Vice-Governor Jeffrey Ferrer said the voting result means each congressman who sits in the committee might have seen “deficiencies.”
Ferrer, a former solon who chaired the House Committee on Peace and Order, said representatives pushing for the franchise renewal might get a chance when the measure gets to the plenary.
In his view, however, the measure might not be submitted for voting to the general membership as the House leadership will simply “respect” the committee report.
To Tambuson, however, who had been railing against the government since the start of the House hearings, today was a particularly “sad day for democracy” as it showed that those in power can simply ignore press freedom.