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‘Laban, Kampamilya’: Altermidya’s statement of support for the People’s Initiative for ABS-CBN franchise

STATEMENT

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.

Laban, Kapamilya!

‘Kapag hindi tayo nagsalita, kinampihan natin ang mali’

“Sa mga kasamahan kong artistang di nagsasalita, ano? May network pa ba kayo? Wala na! Wala na kayong network, kahit magpa-cute kayo diyan sa IG, mag-send kayo ng mga sad face, hindi niyo nadadamayan ang mga katrabaho niyo na dahilan kung bakit kyo sumikat. Kapag hindi tayo nagsalita ibig sabihin kinampihan natin ang mali” – actor Angel Locsin, 18 July 2020 at the simultaneous nationwide noise barrage for ABS-CBN

‘Hindi natin kailangan ng consuelo de bobo’

“Hindi natin kailangan ng consuelo de bobo sa panahong ito ng pandemya at malawak na kagutuman. Ang kailangan ng manggagawa ay ibalik sa kanila ang kanilang trabaho. Ibalik ang ABS-CBN!

The committee knew fully well that denying ABS-CBN’s franchise would lead to thousands of workers unemployed which will further monkey wrench our already dwindling economy. But they did it anyway without a shred of truth – all just to please President Duterte in his wish to bring down the Kapamilya network.”Hon. Ferdinand Gaite, Representative, Bayan Muna Party List

‘Ma, hanggang August 31 na lang po ako sa ABS’

“Ma, hanggang August 31 na lang po ako sa ABS.

Sa halos limang taon ko bilang Kapamilya, ‘di ko inasahan na sasabihin ko ito sa aking pamilya.

Hindi lang trabaho ang kinuha nila sa amin. Pangarap at kinabukasan. ‘Yun ang ninakaw sa amin. I’ve worked so hard for this. ‘Di ko naman nakuha ‘to sa isang iglap lang eh. Pero sa isang iglap lang, mawawala na ang lahat. Hindi kayo makatao.

Ako, #KapamilyaForever. Kayo, hindi forever. #ManiningilAngKasaysayan” — Jon Montesa, Brand Communication Manager, ABS-CBN

Tears, rage over massive loss of jobs at the Kapamilya network

Ma, hanggang August 31 na lang po ako sa ABS-CBN,” Jon Montesa, TVPlus brand communications manager, told his mother upon learning of his retrenchment last Thursday. (Mom, my ABS-CBN employment ends on August 31.)

Like Montesa, hundreds of other workers had to inform their families their worst fears as workers of the Philippines’ biggest media network had come true. Throughout the day, tears flowed in the many offices inside the ABS-CBN compound as unit heads delivered the sad news to their colleagues.  

“In my nearly five years in the network, I never thought I will say this to my family. They not only took away our jobs. Our dreams and future, these are the things they took away from us,” Montesa said in Filipino. “I’ve worked so hard for this. I did not get it easily. But it’s gone in an instant. You are inhumane!” he added, blaming the 70 legislators who voted to deny the Philippines’ media network a new franchise to continue operating last July 10.

Montesa’s FB post that has garnered thousands of reactions and shares as well as hundreds of comments.

It is not only ordinary employees like Montesa who are being given their dismissal slips. Even those who have been on millions of television screens for decades and expected to survive the bloodbath of jobs have been retrenched. Award-winning broadcast journalist and news presenter Ces Oreña-Drilon twitted:

Thousand more are expected to be dismissed until August as the company scrambles to stop the financial hemorrhage it had been suffering since the Philippine government issued a cease and desist order on ABS-CBN’s operations. The network is reported to be losing around Php30 million a day since May 5 but with its franchise denied by Congress, it could no longer keep all of its more than 11,000 workers. “We should consider ourselves lucky if 50% of us is retained until the end of the year,” a source told Kodao.

MOR 101.9 disc jock Czarina “DJ Chacha” Balba said is not only at the network’s corporate headquarters in Quezon City that the retrenchment is ongoing. “There are many MOR radio stations in the entire Philippines. It is not only here in Manila that colleagues are losing jobs. Yesterday, our bosses informed us the MOR network only has until August 31,” she said, explaining there are more than a dozen MOR radio stations nationwide.

Balba revealed this is her first job after college that she considers her “first and forever love.” She said it is not all about her salary but the despair of leaving what she considers her home in the past 12 years. “On top of that, you would no longer be working with your friends nor would you be allowed to visit them because it is prohibited (because of the pandemic),” she grieved.

The loss of income is harder for most employees on top of the bleak prospects of finding new employment while the coronavirus pandemic rages worldwide. An ABS-CBN employee told Kodao she is now watching YouTube videos on soap-making, thinking of joining the online selling community once retrenched.

Upon learning of Congress’ rejection of ABS-CBN’s franchise, employee Jonathan Samson announced he is selling his beloved collection of scooters.

(Reason For Selling: I no longer have a job. Closed by the government),” Samson posted on his Facebook account.

Broadcast journalist Adrian Ayalin is not among those dismissed this week, but it does not insulate him from uncertainty and the pain.



ABS-CBN Supervisory Employees Union president Raul de Asis lays the massive loss of jobs squarely on President Rodrigo Duterte’s feet. “[A]aminin ko sa lahat na talagang ibinoto ko ang Pangulong Duterte. ‘Yung mga kasamahan natin sa probinsiya, sa RNG (regional network group), ibinoto din siya…Talagang iniisip nila na ibinoto natin ‘tong presidenteng ito, na gaganda ang buhay natin lahat, giginhawa ang buhay natin lahat. Pero hindi alintana na ganito na ‘yung mangyayari sa aming lahat na sumuporta sa kaniya,” he said. (I admit I voted for President Duterte, along with our colleagues from the RNG. We thought our lives will be better if we vote for him. We never thought he will do this to those who supported him.)

Ito ba ang kapalit ng aming pagboto sa kaniya? Kikitilin ang aming hanapbuhay? Gugutumin ang aming pamilya? Hindi na kami makatulong sa aming mga kamag-anak at kapatid at magulang? Sobrang masakit po,” he added. (Is this what we get for voting him? Killing our jobs? Making our families go hungry? We will no longer be able to help our relatives, siblings and parents. This is beyond painful.)

In a speech before soldiers in Jolo, Sulu this week, Duterte admitted wanting the network closed. But even before the network’s franchise bid was formally rejected, Duterte’s close ally Senator Ronald dela Rosa already warned that ABS-CBN employees should start looking for other jobs. “Hanap ng ibang trabaho para mabuhay, magsumikap (Look for other jobs, work harder),” he said in an interview with reporters last July 9.

The shock of losing jobs and the shutdown of their company prods employees to react in various ways. Balba asked: “[M]ay iba pa pong department ang ABS-CBN na stop operations muna. So ipagdasal niyo po ang ibang empleyado na kagaya naming lahat.” (Other departments will stop operations. So, pray for the other employees who would be jobless like us.)

Oreña-Drilon for her part struck hopeful: “Babangon din ang mga #kapamilya. (We will rise up.) This may be our darkest hour. But don’t lose hope,” she said.

NUJP photo

Many, like Montesa, however, have held nightly noise barrages at ABS-CBN’s Sgt. Esguerra gate since Monday, heavily filling the air with the banging of gongs, clanging of makeshift noisemakers and sounding horns of cars driving around the network compound in a two-hour motorcade. On Saturday, they will also participate in a nationwide noise barrage to denounce the network’s shutdown, with several ABS-CBN RNG participating. In Metro Manila, motorcades from Makati and Manila cities will converge at the ABS-CBN compound for another protest activity. Enraged, they vow to make those responsible for their uncertain future pay. “Ako, #KapamilyaForever. Kayo, hindi forever. #ManiningilAngKasaysayan,” Montesa said. (I am Family Forever. You are not forever. History will make you pay.) # — Raymund B. Villanueva (with research by Jo Maline D. Mamangun)

‘Ito ba ang kapalit ng pagboto namin kay Duterte?’

“Sa totoo lang po, aaminin ko sa lahat na talagang ibinoto ko ang Pangulong Duterte. ‘Yung mga kasamahan natin sa probinsiya, sa RNG (regional network group), ibinoto din siya.

Ito ba ang kapalit ng aming pagboto sa kaniya? Kikitilin ang aming hanapbuhay? Gugutumin ang aming pamilya? Hindi na kami makatulong sa aming mga kamag-anak at kapatid at magulang? Sobrang masakit po.” — Raul de Asis, President, ABS-CBN
Supervisory Employees Union

Rep. Carlos Zarate’s summation on the ABS-CBN franchise renewal

09 June 2020, House of Representatives — Speaking in behalf of representatives in favor of the embattled media network’s bid for a fresh franchise, Rep. Zarate called on the rest of the members of the House of Representatives Committee on Legislative Franchises to vote for the people.

Zarate recounted several testimonials from ordinary people on how the mass media, particulary ABS-CBN, have served at the forefront during disasters and calamities, providing vital information for Filipinos in country and abroad.

He added that almost all Filipinos are affected by the ABS-CBN shutdown, as they depend on the network for news, current affairs and other pulic services.

“Bakit natin paparusahan at supilin maging ang karapatan ng pamamahayag at karapatan ng ating mga mamamayan sa malayang daloy ng impormasyon?” Zarate asked. (Video from the HOR page)

ABS-CBN’s Franchise: WHO’S DECIDING?

The House of Representatives is set to vote on ABS-CBN network’s franchise after 12 joint committee hearings facilitated by the Committee on Legislative Franchises along with the Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability.

ABS-CBN’s 25-year franchise expired on 4 May 2020. On May 5, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) ordered the network to stop with operations on their regular frequencies. ANC continued on cable and some programs on the network’s social media platforms.

Twelve bills for the renewal of franchise were filed with the 18th Congress. But the Committee which oversees the process only began discussing the pending bills for ABS-CBN after the network was forced to close down. The hearings on the issue leaned heavily on complaints about the unfavourable coverage that some of the members of the House had received from the news programs.

The Freedom for Media, Freedom for All (FMFA) network believes that citizens should have a say about this issue as the closure of one of the largest networks in the country has disrupted the flow of news and information and the availability of entertainment that have become a part of their lives. It is important for Filipinos to know how these representative will decide on ABS-CBN’s franchise bid. #

–FREEDOM FOR MEDIA, FREEDOM FOR ALL

[Images by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism]

‘Para kanino ang pagpapasara sa ABS-CBN?’

Ito ang tanong ng mga lumahok sa isinagawang motorcade at rali noong Lunes, Hulyo 6, ng mga nananawagan sa bagong prangkisa ng ABS-CBN.

Sa huling araw ng pagdinig ng Kongreso sa mga petisyon para sa pagpapatuloy na operasyon ng kumpanya, nagpunta ang mga empleyado at kanilang mga taga-suporta sa Kamara de Representante upang manawagan na huwag tuluyang isara ito.

Sa pangunguna ng National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, nagdaos ng programa sa kahabaan ng Batasan Avenue ang Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, Makabayan Bloc, SENTRO, Kilusang Mayo Uno, Photojournalism Center of the Philippines, Free the Artist Movement, National Association of Broadcast Unions, at mga unyon ng manggagawa ng ABS-CBN, IBC-13 at GMA-7.

Antoinette Jadaone: “Ang laban ng ABS-CBN ay laban ko rin”

“Ang laban ng ABS-CBN ay laban ko rin. Ang laban ng mga inarestong Pride
protester, kahit ‘di ka man LGBT, ay laban din natin. Ang laban ng mga jeepney driver, kahit ’di tayo driver, laban din natin. Ang laban ng mga aktibista, ng mga OFW, laban natin. DAHIL IISANG BANGKA TAYO.”
Antoinette Jadaone, Film Maker