Contrary to the statement of Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque that it’s the decision of the Filipino people, and not the Congress, to deny media giant ABS-CBN of its bid for a 25-year franchise, Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey reveals otherwise.
The SWS’ National Mobile Phone Survey found out that three out of four Filipinos or a significant 75% of the Filipino respondents were in favor of Congress renewing ABS-CBN’s franchise, and 56% said that the Congress’ decision to deny is a blow to press freedom.
The survey was conducted from July 3 to 6 while the House of Representatives was still debating the fate of ABS-CBN. On July 10, the House Committee on Legislative Franchises decided to deny franchise renewal, with 70 panel member voting for the denial, and only 11 in favor of the renewal.
The SWS survey also revealed that among those who believe that it’s right to grant ABS-CBN its franchise, the highest was in Mindanao (80%), followed by the Visayas (77%), Balance Luzon (74%), and Metro Manila (69%). It was higher in rural areas at 81% than in urban areas at 70 percent.
What do these numbers prove? The figures are a strong testament to what the Kapamilyas on social media have been arguing. ABS-CBN is indeed a far-reaching network, and stripping it off its broadcast operations is similar to taking away from people in far-flung areas of the country the right for news and information, which are crucial especially amid the COVID-19 crisis.
Of course, the Duterte administration’s so-called army of trolls is present to defend the “politically-motivated” decision of the Congress. Some are even echoing the stance of other government officials that ABS-CBN being off-air doesn’t have a significant impact on the Philippines and lives of the Filipino people. Hate to break it to you, but it does.
Other than ABS-CBN’s 11,000 employees at risk of being jobless amid a pandemic, there are other small-time businesses and essential industries that will be affected. It doesn’t take rocket science to understand this.
The Congress and the Palace say that this is the end of the road for the media giant. For ABS-CBN, its artists and employees, and its supporters from all over the country, the fight continues.