“Our progressive congressmen can draft the most privileged bills, but without the people’s support outside they will have a hard time convincing the people inside the Congress.”
By ALYSSA MAE CLARIN
MANILA– The Filipino people have decided to step up the campaign to put ABS-CBN back on air.
In a webinar hosted by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), PIRMA Kapamilya introduced the public-driven signature campaign aiming to bring back the country’s largest broadcasting station.
PIRMA Kapamilya convenor, lawyer Third Bagro said that on July 10, he was one of the people who was dismayed with the decision of Congress to deny ABS-CBN a franchise renewal. “It was unfair and unjustified. So we thought: perhaps it was time for us, citizens, to grant ABS-CBN the people’s franchise through the ‘People’s Initiative’.”
People’s Initiative refers to the power given to the people under the 1987 Philippine Constitution, that enables the Filipino people to directly propose and enact laws, or even amend the Constitution itself. Granted under R.A. 6735 or “The Initiative and Referendum Act” was promulgated in 1989 to implement the foregoing provisions in the Constitution.
For the initiative to succeed, they would be needing at least ten percent of all registered voters, and at least three percent of all registered voters in every legislative district to sign the petition.
Then, they will be filing the petition along with the signatures to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for verification.
After verifying the legitimacy of the signatures, Comelec will then call for a referendum, similar to how people can vote for the elections, to let the voters decide whether they agree with the proposed law or not.
During the referendum, at least 50 percent plus one of the votes cast should vote for the enactment of the proposed law. After Comelec certifies the result of the referendum, the law then becomes effective.
According to the SWS Survey, three out of four Filipinos support the renewal of ABS-CBN. And more recently, a Veritas survey also showed that 68 percent wants ABS-CBN back.
In the history of the Philippines, ever since 1987, a successful People’s Initiative has never been done at a national-level, but the convenors of PIRMA Kapamilya are willing to try anyway.
“If we are able to bring back ABS-CBN through this initiative, it will be the first ever to succeed without needing the permission of politicians, and even the president himself.”
Former Bayan Muna representative and National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) Chairman Neri Colmenares welcomed the initiative.
“Our progressive congressmen can draft the most privileged bills, but without the people’s support outside they will have a hard time convincing the people inside the Congress,” said Colmenares.
“Remember our biggest victories are done because of the people’s outrage through protest. Therefore the involvement of the people is what is most important,” he added.
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate, meanwhile, shared their efforts inside the House of Representatives.
Zarate wrote a letter to the Committee of Legislative Franchise, asking the latter to bring the resolution denying the franchise of ABS-CBN to the plenary.
“The resolutions drafted by the Technical Working Group, as adopted by the Committee, had many resolutions that can only be addressed outside of the Legislative Franchise Committee,” explained Zarate. “We are planning to push the issue and further discuss it in the plenary.”
Zarate said that while the Initiative is a big help, supporting lawmakers inside the House of the Representatives is also important to keep the issue alive.
NUJP Chairman Nonoy Espina said the Initiative is a huge step forward, especially since the decision to shut down ABS-CBN was done despite the visible outrage of the Filipino people.
“With this initiative, the Filipino people will finally be able to voice out their own opinions about ABS-CBN’s franchise,” said Espina.
He also mentioned the importance of ABS-CBN’s wide reach when it comes to delivering news to the remote areas in the country, not only because of the pandemic but also because the country is fast approaching the typhoon season.
“This people’s initiative will be most important to those who have lost their only access to information, to news, and to entertainment, because of the closure of a big broadcasting network,” Espina said.