ABS-CBN workers union asks Duterte to take action in franchise renewal case

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 21)— A group of ABS-CBN employees called on President Rodrigo Duterte to take action in the media giant’s controversial franchise renewal case.

In a statement, the ABS-CBN Supervisors Union appealed for the chief executive to “mediate” in the process, as they are “running out of time” with Congress still not acting on the pending renewal measures.

“We, the employees of ABS-CBN Corporation, the biggest and largest media company in the Philippines is appealing to the President to please mediate and be involved on the process of our broadcast franchise renewal that is set to be expired on march 30, 2020,” the union said.

“Our chance of having a continued broadcast operation after our franchise expires is also unclear, despite the opinions and views from different lawmakers and law experts,” it added.

The union noted a possible shutdown will not only affect the thousands of employees, but their respective families as well.

The appeal, however, may be in deep water with Duterte previously slamming ABS-CBN.

In an earlier speech, the chief executive said the company will definitely be “out” this year with its license set to lapse in a month.

RELATED: Duterte tells ABS-CBN execs to sell company

His remarks reportedly stemmed from the network's alleged failure to run his campaign advertisements during the 2016 elections.

A total of eleven bills seeking to renew ABS-CBN’s legal mandate remain pending before the House of Representatives, while a counterpart measure has also yet to pass the Senate’s committee level.

The lower chamber has yet to calendar a hearing for the case, citing “more urgent” measures on the table for lawmakers. The upper chamber, meanwhile, is set to conduct a separate probe on Monday.

Some solons earlier allayed concerns over ABS-CBN’s looming shutdown, saying the media company can still broadcast news and content once it secures provisional authority from the National Telecommunications Commission. However, some say there’s no assurance NTC will grant the permit without Duterte’s clearance.