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The imminent shutdown ofABS-CBN is opposed as a show of concern by a cross-section of society

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OPINION AND OPTION

By ELINANDO B. CINCO

Elinando B. Cinco

Elinando B. Cinco

It looks like a landslide of public backlash is gathering.

Starting last Friday, there have been protests by confetti-bearing crowds and mounting demonstrators.

The apparently determined effort by the government to end the ABS-CBN’s franchise – it is expiring on March 30 – was shown by the filing of a 600-page quo warranto petition before the Supreme Court by the Office of the Solicitor General last Wednesday.

This legal action cited several alleged violations by the broadcasting company and its twin corporate entity, ABS-CBN Convergence, of the provisions of their permit.

One reason for this apparent government intrusion into a private business is that it is concerned that alleged violations of the respondents of their franchise. If remains unchecked, will encourage other radio-TV groups to commit the same violations it is alleged.

The giant radio-television network has assembled a team of legal experts “to answer point-by-point” the accusations hurled by OSG. “We never violated any law,” they said.

Supporters brandished fiery placards – “It curtails press freedom.” “Yes, to media independence.” “No, to harassment.” “Gov’t bullying newsmen.” “Political suppression of press freedom.”

The first government entity to come to the support of the network was the Commission on Human Rights, which also happens the favorite “whipping boy” of the Palace. It said something like, “the curtailing of the freedom of expression continues.”

The Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP), the association of the broadcast industry, came out defending ABS-CBN.

While a crowd was milling around on Sgt. Esguerra street fronting the embattled company’s main headquarters, the marchers were surprised to see a news team from Qatar-based Al Jazeera, one of the biggest television news organizations in the world, covering the on-going event Thursday evening.

Then on the same day, the University of Santo Tomas, Faculty of Journalism – my very own Alma Mater – was steadfast in siding with the beleaguered radio-TV conglomerate.

Another big name followed the growing supporters Thursday – the city government of Quezon City.

Mayor Joy Belmonte said her administration is grateful to the ABS-CBN management for the cultural and social uplift of her constituency when it built a big and modern cultural edifice, cum museum.  And for setting up a compound with shelter and food facilities for the charity residents of the city.

The 11,000 ABS-CBN employees in its main broadcasting headquarters, provincial branches and international offices – the payroll managers, administrative staffers, announcers, contractual directors, producers, musicians, technicians, actors and actresses, drivers – asked: “Saan kami pupunta, if our company gets the ax?”

Company insiders confide that the collective dependents of all personnel mentioned above would come to a total of 60,000.

 

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