The stars of ABS-CBN are now banking on the support of their social media followers for the 1-million signature campaign launched by the National Union of Journalist of the Philippines (NUJP) calling for the renewal of the Kapamilya network’s 25-year franchise.
The network could cease to exist by March 30 if the bills seeking to grant ABS-CBN a new franchise are not acted upon by lawmakers. Standing in the way of its franchise renewal is President Duterte himself, who repeatedly said that he would do everything in his power to prevent ABS-CBN from getting a franchise extension. Duterte is accusing ABS-CBN of biased reporting and has not forgotten the decision of its management not to air his campaign ads in the 2016 elections even if they were paid already. True enough, the bills have not progressed in the administration-dominated House of Representatives.
NUJP, in launching the 1-million signature campaign last January 17, said Duterte’s action goes against freedom of the press and expression. Aside from physical signatures, the group is also using the change.org platform to gather electronic signatures.
As of the afternoon of January 21, however, the change.org petition has only gathered about 5,000 signatures.
The stars of ABS-CBN have started campaigning openly for the petition.
“The Voice of the Philippines” judge Lea Salonga, for instance, said in a Twitter post: “Yes, I have personal and professional reasons for this one. Not gonna lie.”
Currently on-leave “It’s Showtime” host Anne Curtis tweeted: “Please sign the petition. So many lives will be affected by the jobs that will be lost.” Fellow “It’s Showtime” host Vice Ganda, who also has his own talk show “Gandang Gabi, Vice!”, said on Twitter: “We will not lose our family”.
NUJP, after gathering 1 million signatures, plans to send the petition to Congress and hopes that the franchise renewal of ABS-CBN would be passed. The group said Congress should pass the bill and just let Duterte veto it if he really intends to shut ABS-CBN down.
Lea, Anne and Vice alone collectively have over 30 million followers on social media, so reaching that 1 million signatures should not be a problem.