We, independent media outfits and journalists under the Altermidya Network, express our support to the People’s Initiative to Grant ABS-CBN a People’s Franchise or Pirma Kapamilya, a movement that seek to gather 7 million signatures for ABS-CBN.
After 70 legislators voted a death sentence for the network and its 11,000 employees, many Filipinos and press freedom advocates remain hopeful of possible avenues to grant ABS-CBN a franchise.
‘People’s Initiative’ under the 1987 Constitution grants Filipinos the power to amend the Constitution or enact laws. This procedure is governed by Republic Act 6735 or “The Initiative and Referendum Act,” along with Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Resolution No. 10650.
Under the said rules, a proposed legislation needs the signature of at least 10% of all registered voters or about 6.1 million signatures based on the total registered voters in the 2019 National Elections Record. To ensure that enough signatures are secured after the verification process, a target of 7 million registered voters has been set.
The sheer number of signatures needed is not lost on us: indeed this road is painstaking and difficult, an arduous task only aggravated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Yet at a time when those in power are relentless in eroding our rights – press freedom, our civil liberties, our right to know –we take every instance we have to defend and reclaim these rights with every risk and effort.
The campaign has only just begun, and yet paid hacks and naysayers already accuse it of being an elaborate scheme funded by so-called oligarchs. This claim conveniently ignores how it was precisely those in power who conspired to steal from the Filipino people one of their main sources of information at the height of the public health crisis.
We have underscored from the beginning that this campaign is not a move to protect mere corporate interests. It is an assertion by the Filipino people who cannot tolerate abuses to our constitutionally-guaranteed right to press freedom and free expression.
The road may be difficult but the initiative is a form of taking back the power of the phrase “we, the sovereign Filipino people” enshrined in the 1987 Constitution. As we have always said and done in the past, we will fight back, together for press freedom, for the people’s to know, and for democracy.