MANILA, Philippines — A signature drive led by the head of the employees’ union of network giant ABS -CBN has garnered over a million signatures in just 24 hours.
The signature campaign, launched by ABS-CBN union head Jon Villanueva, is addressed to the House of Representatives.
In the petition, ABS-CBN employees and their families and friends called for the immediate granting of the network’s franchise.
“We, the employees of ABS-CBN, call for the immediate discussion and passing of the renewal of the ABS-CBN Franchise,” the petition said.
ABS-CBN has been off the air since May 5, when the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) issued a cease and desist order compelling the network to stop broadcasting since it has no valid franchise.
It was the first time ABS-CBN was forced by the government to shut down since it was padlocked in September 1972 when dictator Ferdinand Marcos imposed martial law.
In a text message, Villanueva said that he and other colleagues have been circulating a similar petition since February, with the intention of collecting all 11,000 plus signatures of the network’s employees.
But the community quarantine over Luzon halted their bid to gather the signatures.
“We also expected the NTC to grant us a provisional authority to remain on air. But of course as we all know now, we were surprised by the cease and desist order,” Villanueva said in Filipino.
That was when the petition was put online.
In the petition, ABS-CBN employees appealed to Congress to immediately tackle the franchise renewal, so they can go back to work.
“We want ABS-CBN to continue its operations, not only because it serves as our main source of livelihood, but because for most of us, the company’s happy working environment and the management’s fair practices have encouraged us to continue to be in the service of the Filipino,” the petition said.
Villanueva expressed gratitude and optimism that the popular support for the network will lead to the granting of its franchise.
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