Joel Lamangan’s eloquent Senate testimony against ABS-CBN shutdown

February 24, 2020 - 6:22 PM
A media crew cab enters the ABS-CBN Broadcasting Center, the office of the country's top broadcast network, following a move by the Philippine government to scrap its franchises, in Quezon City
A media crew cab enters the ABS-CBN Broadcasting Center, the office of the country's top broadcast network, following a move by the Philippine government to scrap its franchises, in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines, February 10, 2020. (Reuters/Eloisa Lopez)

Veteran movie and television director Joel Lamangan upheld press freedom and the freedom of speech and expression as he attended the Senate hearing tackling ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal.

He appeared at the hearing on behalf of filmmakers’ group Directors Guild of the Philippines and stressed the importance of the media giant as a platform of free speech and as an avenue for them to practice their craft and art with passion.

“Ang anumang pagkitil sa prangkisa ng ABS-CBN ay malawak na pagyurak sa karapatan ng pamamahayag at karapatan ng malayang pananalita,” Lamangan said, as quoted by reports.

He stressed that such rights are enshrined in the Philippine Constitution, which is the fundamental law of the land that must be upheld and protected.

“Nakaukit sa ating Saligang Batas ang karapatan ng pamamahayag at pagpapahayag. Kailangan ito’y ating pinoprotektahan at ginagawan ng paraan upang yumabong sapagkat ito ang kaluluwa ng demokrasya,” Lamangan said.

He also expressed his fear that once the franchise wouldn’t be subjected to renewal, it would affect the development of arts and culture in a democratic society, including television shows and films.

RELATED: Potential ABS-CBN shutdown a loss for Filipino audiences and culture too, scholars note

“Ang artistikong ekspresyon ng pelikula, ng dula, ng mga panulat, ng visual art, at lahat ng iba pang sining ay kalulwa ng bawan. Kung hindi ito mabigyan ng pagkakataon na marinig at makita ng buong Pilipinas at ng ating mga kabababayan sa ibang bansa, kalungkot-lungkot,” Lamangan said.

“Kapag nawala ang napakalaking plataporma… maaari itong magawa sa maliliit pang may prangkisa. Sino ang ang magku-kuwento ng istorya natin?” the director added.

Early this month, Lamangan was among the personalities who called on the House of Representatives to prioritize the TV network’s franchise bills on its agenda.

The director is known for being outspoken against issues involving human rights.

During the Martial Law period, he was detained and tortured at the age of 16. Lamangan was part of the left-leaning student organization Kabataang Makabayan which fought for and defended human rights.

‘No to ABS-CBN shutdown’

The local online community showed support to the director while some echoed his sentiments as fellow lovers of the arts and culture, including actors working in the media giant.

“That Director Joel Lamangan speech in the Senate almost made me cry. I felt the frustration of an artist because of the possibility of the closure of a platform that is essential for speech freedom. #NoToABSCBNShutDown,” a Twitter user said.

Every story is worth sharing, telling and remembering. And we cannot do that without an instrument, a platform. Kudos to Direk Joel Lamangan,” another user wrote. 

Actress Angel Locsin retweeted one of his statements as shared by broadcast host Karen Davila and simply posted a raising hands emoji.

Actor Paulo Avelino likewise praised the veteran director for pointing out the possible impacts of ABS-CBN’s broadcasting arm in the hearing.

The public services committee of the Senate, as well as the committees on economic affairs and finance, launched the hearing on ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal on February 24, Monday. Executives of the network, including ABS-CBN president and CEO Carlo Katigbak, attended the hearing as resource persons.

The media giant’s congressional franchise to operate its radio and broadcasting service is set to expire on May 4 this year, not March as earlier reported, according to Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra.

Guevarra clarified that the network’s franchise was granted on March 30, 1995, but it becomes effective 15 days after it is published in newspapers which was April 19, 1995.


“For that reason, the franchise will expire on May 4, 2020,” he said during the Senate inquiry.

If ABS-CBN ceases its broadcast operations, scholars believe it would have a heavy impact on entertainment, culture and society.

They noted that television amplifies the voices of the impoverished, “shapes us as a people,” forms public awareness, serves as a conduit for cultural exchanges and a space for “creative freedom.”