May 22, 2020
President, Republic of the Philippines
Malacañang Complex J.P. Laurel Street San Miguel, Manila 1005
Cc: Philippine House of Representatives
Dear President Duterte and members of the Philippine House of Representatives,
I am urging you to renew a 25-year franchise agreement for ABS-CBN to continue to operate.
I write today on behalf of District 5 of San Mateo County in California, home to one of the largest Filipino-American communities in the United States of America. In our great state, one out of five nurses is a Filipino frontliner, bravely facing danger everyday to carry our world through the greatest threat of our time: the COVID-19 pandemic.
The very community I represent also faces a grave danger in their motherland, where there has been a brazen demonstration of contempt against a free press in the Philippines. The shutdown of the country’s largest broadcaster, ABS-CBN, has resulted in an assault against the Filipino people during a time in our history where all governments should be working side-by-side to protect, inform, and uplift all nations and their citizens.
The reason that it’s so important to get ABS-CBN, their channels and radio stations back on air is because some of the most marginalized and poorest communities are now cut off from critical information that is essential to their survival. ABS-CBN has upwards of a 40-50 percent audience share which means that majority of the entire nation relies on it for news and entertainment, including Filipinos living in the United States.
We are hoping to see a fair and democratic process related to the franchise agreement deliberation. The economies of both the Philippines and the United States will suffer without an agreement that guarantees a free press and the nation’s access to information so that all people have a fair chance to survive the pandemic.
San Mateo County