The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) on Wednesday submitted a list of 200,000 signatures to the House of Representatives in a bid to push the chamber to start deliberating on the bills seeking the renewal of ABS-CBN Corporation's franchise.
In a press conference, Bayan Muna party-list Representative Carlos Zarate, one of the authors of the bills, received the list from NUJP, part of which was printed out with the rest in a flash drive.
NUJP director Raymond Villanueva said the signatures were gathered from all over Metro Manila by various organizations as well as from NUJP's online petition through Change.org.
"The NUJP is undertaking this petition-signing to show support to the authors of the 11 franchise bills and to urge the House of Representatives Committee on Legislative Franchises to schedule their discussion," Villanueva said.
"We need not remind Congress that the network's franchise expires on March 30 and that the First Regular Session only has a little more than a dozen session days to do so," he added.
Villanueva said their paramount consideration are the 11,000 workers in ABS-CBN who are faced with unemployment if the TV network's franchise is not renewed.
"We also urge Congress to be independent and not be influenced by efforts in the executive and judicial branches of government to deny the network of due process," he said.
"We view these to be curtailments of press freedom, coming as they are at the heels of public and repeated threats by no less than President Rodrigo Duterte to block the renewal of the franchise," he added.
Villanueva said they are still aiming to get one million signatures worldwide, and they are counting on many overseas Filipino workers to sign their petition.
For his part, Zarate thanked the NUJP for handing over the list, saying that he will share this with his fellow authors as well as with Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and House Committee on Legislative Franchises chair Franz Alvarez to urge them to start the deliberations.
"I hope that with this show of support coming from the industry and from the other sectors...[will] help the leadership of the House realize the need for immediately taking this issue head-on rather than dine-delay ito at mas lalong nalalagay sa alanganin ang ating mamamayan in general," he said. — BM, GMA News