ABS-CBN star-maker Mr. M pens open letter urging Remulla, Defensor to back franchise renewal

July 6, 2020 - 1:59 PM
This undated photo shows film and television director Johnny "Mr. M." Manahan. (Facebook/Johnny Manahan)

Veteran program director and talent manager Johnny Manahan, also known as Mr. M, urged lawmakers who earlier opposed the renewal of ABS-CBN franchise, to reconsider their decisions for the sake of millions of Filipinos who depend on the broadcaster for news and entertainment.

Mr. M is a known mentor of Kapamilya stars. He honed talents of some of the big names in the local entertainment industry such as Bea Alonzo, Angelica Panganiban, Piolo Pascual and John Lloyd Cruz, among others.

He is also the director behind some of ABS-CBN’s iconic programs, which include “ASAP,” “Home Along da Riles,” “Ang TV,” “X Factor Philippines,” and “The Voice of the Philippines.”

On May 5, ABS-CBN’s main broadcast services in radio and television across the country signed off the air in compliance with the National Telecommunications Commission’s cease-and-desist order after its franchise lapsed.

More than a month later, on July 1, the state regulator ordered another alias CDO to close ABS-CBN’s digital television or TV Plus channels and Sky Cable Corporation’s Sky Direct services.

TV Plus channels, which were aired via Channel 43, include Cine MO!Yey!TeleRadyo, and pay-per-view channel Kapamilya Box Office.

Mr. M’s appeal

In an open letter posted July 5, Manahan addressed Rep. Mike Defensor (Anakalusugan party-list), vice chairman of the House good government committee, and House Deputy Speaker Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla, and asked them to change their views against ABS-CBN’s authority to operate.

The letter was shared by both his daughter Juana Manahan-Yupangco and the official social media accounts of the network’s  training and management subsidiary, Star Magic.

“It was right to bring to light the true conditions of the workplace and the pittance received by technical crews and artists working 22 to 24 hours per day,” Manahan said.

“You got that right Cong. Mike! I hope you, Cong. Boying and your fellow lawmakers in the committee and in the House as a whole appreciate the ABS-CBN record of entertainment and public service and find it in your hearts to grant a re-issue of the ABS-CBN franchise. Millions of people around the world depend on it,” he added.

Defensor, Remulla, and House Deputy Speaker Rodante Marcoleta were among the solons who earlier questioned the continued operations of TV Plus and Sky Direct after the ABS-CBN shutdown.

Marcoleta also previously claimed the network “voluntarily closed” despite the NTC’s cease-and-desist order.

He also hurled old allegations against the network such as tax evasion, labor practices and foreign ownership.

The lawmakers’ stance and line of questioning during the series of hearings drew heavy criticisms on social media as some cited they are recycling issues already addressed by the network.

READ: ‘How about GMA?’: Arguments raised as solon hurls old accusations vs ABS-CBN in House hearing

In line with the labor issues, Manahan recognized that the broadcast giant is not a perfect company and that it’s “open to criticism.”

“ABS-CBN is not perfect. No one said it was. It is open to criticism and is willing to correct mistakes and take concrete steps to improve itself. So let us not throw away the baby along with the bathwater!” he said.

Manahan also mentioned “a gang of four” whom he did not name and claimed that they sought to end ABS-CBN Corporations’ long run in the industry by “their niggling, petty-fogging, and hair-splitting.”

“They have unearthed technicalities that only a Talmudic scholar or medieval philosopher would appreciate,” he said.

The celebrated talent manager then recalled that he had known the Lopez family throughout his 34 years with ABS-CBN and his struggles during the Martial Law era wherein he became a freelancer for 13 years.

Manahan also mentioned fellow veteran colleagues Jim Paredes, Johnny Delgado, and Freddie Garcia as he recounted their activities during the 1986 EDSA Revolt.

He expressed hope that the lawmakers won’t commit the same crime that the Marcoses did back then.

“The Marcoses stole ABS-CBN from the Lopez family in 1973! Please do not steal it again!” he said.


This letter was later shared by other actors such as Daniel Padilla and Khalil Ramos on social media. ABS-CBN host Bianca Gonzales also shared the letter of Manahan.

They included the hashtag #VoteYestoABSCBN, the hashtag used by supporters of the network who are calling for its franchise renewal. Online supporters of ABS-CBN are also using hashtags #KapamilyaForever, #IbalikAngABSCBN and #YestoABSCBNFranchiseRenewal to back the network’s in its franchise woes.

The latter three hashtags are now on the top trending list of Twitter Philippines.

Last July 3, ABS-CBN writer Carmi Raymundo also called on the supporters and subscribers of the media company to reach out to lawmakers who are part of the House Committee on Legislative Franchises.

Raymundo requested them to write emails to these officials and attached their email addresses to her post.