The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) submitted to the House of Representatives (HOR) about 200 thousand signatures urging Congress to act on the 11 bills for the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise last Wednesday, 19 February.
In a press conference at the HOR’s media center, the media group submitted to Bayan Muna Representative Karlos Ysagani Zarate about eight thousand signatures as well as a flash drive containing nearly 200 thousand signatures it gathered since it launched the petition signing campaign in January when plans by the Office of the Solicitor General to file a quo warranto petition were reported last January.
“The NUJP is undertaking this petition signing to show support to the authors of the 11 franchise bills and urge the [HOR} Committee on Legislative Franchises to schedule their discussion,” the group said.
Prior to the press conference, NUJP officers submitted the same lists to Committee of Legislative Franchises chairperson Rep. Franz Alvarez, as well as Representatives Edcel Lagman, Vilma Santos-Recto and the committee secretariat.
“We need not remind Congress that the network’s franchise expires on March 30 and that the First Regular Session [of the 18th Congress] only has a little more than a dozen session days [to act on the bills],” the NUJP said.
In urging Congress to pass ABS-CBN’s franchise, the media group said it has the welfare of 11 thousand network workers who are fear for their jobs.
NUJP urged Congress to be independent on the issue and give the embattled network due process.
NUJP said the petition signing aims to gather one million signatures and are still ongoing.
It revealed that the signatures are being gathered during their regular Friday night activities near ABS-CBN as well as in schools and communities.
They are assisted by other media groups such as Altermidya, College Editors Guild of the Philippines, Photojournalists Center of the Philippines, Defend Jobs Philippines, ABS-CBN Rank and File Employees Union, among other groups.
The group is set to submit the same lists to Senator Grace Poe, chairperson of both the Senate committees on public information and public services, on Thursday, February 20.
Zarate thanked NUJP “for the show of support” urging Alvarez and Speaker Allan Peter Cayetano to listen to the petitioners.
Zarate and fellow Makabayan bloc members are among the authors of the bills. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)
(Disclosure: The author, currently NUJP deputy secretary general, was among the media group officers who turned over the list of petitioners.)