ABS-CBN personalities-turned-lawmakers rally behind network's franchise renewal

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 1) — Some of ABS-CBN's former personalities who are now in Congress joined the list of lawmakers rallying behind the franchise renewal of the broadcast giant after it went off the air.

"Star for All Seasons" Vilma Santos-Recto and former broadcast journalist Loren Legarda defended the network in a joint House committee hearing on Monday.

"As a part of the entertainment industry, I share the sentiments of the talents of ABS-CBN," said Santos-Recto, who sponsored House Bill 4305 seeking the grant of a 25-year franchise for the network.

Legarda, who filed a similar measure through her House Bill 6293, raised concerns on the network's 11,000 employees who could be laid off in the next two months, pending the network's franchise.

"I stand for the corporation's 11,000 employees composed of the rank and file, talents, professionals, my previous co-workers facing uncertainty with regard to their jobs at the worst possible time amid the pandemic," she said.

Laguna Rep. Sol Aragones and Parañaque Rep. Joy Myra Tambunting also recounted their experiences as former employees of the network through their sponsorship speeches.

Aragones, a former reporter, said the network "went above and beyond" its obligations as a broadcast network by helping those in need, through its humanitarian programs.

"ABS-CBN was not only interested in reporting the news, but it went above and beyond the obligations of a broadcast network – by helping those in need no matter how few they may be, no matter how far they may be," she said.

Meanwhile, Tambunting, who previously worked as a producer of the company, said her former colleagues and mentors taught her a lot about "hard work, accuracy, respect, and dignity."

Fourteen House bills seeking to renew the network's franchise are pending before the body, the earliest of which was filed in July 2019. ABS-CBN's franchise expired May 4, which was cited by the National Telecommunications Commission as basis to order the shutdown of its broadcasts a day later.

The next House hearing on the issue is scheduled at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, June 3.