MANILA, Philippines – Several stars joined the employees who gathered for another prayer rally calling for the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise.
Among the stars at the event were actors Nikki Valdez, Gerald Anderson, and Elmo Magalona.
The network also held a rally on February 21, where a number of celebrities – including Coco Martin, Jericho Rosales, Shaina Magdayao, Angel Aquino, Joel Torre, and John Prats – attended.
ABS-CBN faces the threat of a shutdown, as its franchise, which was approved in 1995, is set to expire on May 4. In the Philippines, broadcast companies, such as radio and television networks, must obtain a franchise from Congress.
The franchise bill needs the approval of the House of Representatives before it is forwarded to the Senate. A version of the bill approved by both the House and the Senate will still require presidential approval.
But President Rodrigo Duterte has expressed that he doesn't want ABS-CBN's franchise renewed. In 2017, he accused the network of "swindling" him, allegedly not airing his campaign advertisements during the 2016 presidential elections. The network has since apologized to Duterte, explaining how there was not enough time anymore before the ban on political ads took effect a day before election day. Duterte accepted their apology, but said it was still up to Congress what to do with the network's franchise.
Speaker Alan Cayetano, who was Duterte's losing running mate in 2016, has refused to schedule any House hearings on ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal before the 18th Congress takes a break on March 14. He said the limited time wouldn’t be enough to cover all sides of the issue.
He insisted that the House can only schedule a hearing in May or early August – after the expiration of the network’s franchise. – Rappler.com