Talents of GMA Network set aside rivalry amid looming ABS-CBN shutdown

February 12, 2020 - 4:44 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)

ABS-CBN gained allies from some personalities of rival GMA Network amid its impending shutdown, which is seen to hurt the local workforce and viewed as a violation of press freedom.

The government’s legal counsel, Solicitor General Jose Calida, filed a quo warranto petition earlier this week seeking to revoke the franchise of ABS-CBN due to alleged violations.

The petition is similar to the legal remedy he used to oust Maria Lourdes Sereno in 2018.

The move came even though the franchise is about to expire in a few weeks and while the proposal to extend it for another 25 years is still pending in the Congress.

Dingdong Dantes, GMA Network’s “prime time king” and former National Youth Commission chair, joined in the wave of support for ABS-CBN’s legislative license to operate, noting the importance of the talents and the output of the people there.

“Magkaiba man ng bakod, we are one in the media industry. We have one love for the many talents and crafts under this Network, the products and output of which, directly or indirectly, benefit the lives of millions of Filipinos,” Dantes said on Twitter.

“In the end, I pray that the true interests of the people, under the rule of law, will prevail over any other political agenda conveniently veiled as a countermeasure against alleged abuses,” he added.

Award-winning actress Eugene Domingo, who is also from GMA, likewise sent prayers for a positive outcome for the network.

“In the end, we are all family. I pray with you,” she said on Instagram.

For his part, GMA News reporter JP Soriano also expressed his stand on Twitter.

“I strongly stand with my fellow journalists at ABS-CBN whom I respectfully admired,” Soriano said.

During the broadcast of GMA’s “24 Oras” news program on February 11, TV anchors Pia Arcangel, Vicky Morales and Atom Araullo were also seen wearing the color scheme of the ABS-CBN logo.

Some Filipinos speculated that this could be a form of silent solidarity, although not verified.

Without verifying the former, Araullo also tweeted on this matter, echoing the same sentiment as Soriano’s for the sake of defending press freedom in the country.

Nonetheless, ABS-CBN reporter Anjo Bagaoisan still recognized the gesture on his Twitter account.

The fate of at least 11,000 workers composed of technical crew, reporters and talents is currently in limbo because of the legal remedy used.

The decision is now up to the Supreme Court following the rules of court.

Press Corps says no to ABS-CBN shutdown 

The Philippine National Police Press Corps and the Defense Press Corps also issued their position to back up ABS-CBN, citing the private entity’s rights to free speech and expression, and free press.

“Amid various arguments pertaining to this matter, all of these still boil down to the issue of press freedom which is enshrined in the Constitution, and which is part of the real meaning of democracy,” part of the PNP Press Corps read.

“It has been said that a free press is the lifeblood of democracy. We cannot emphasize enough as seeking to destroy ABS-CBN, an institution in the Philippine media industry, sends a clear warning to the country’s fourth estate to carry our message or face annihilation,” the Defense Corps said.

Press advocates and organizations also shared the same criticisms on the Duterte administration’s initiatives to shut the company down.