A group of volunteers led by lawyers have launched a signature collection campaign aiming to grant ABS-CBN a “people’s franchise” via people’s initiative.

The People’s Initiative for Reforms and Movement for Action (Pirma Kapamilya) seeks to collect seven million signatures, or 10 percent of the total registered voters in the country.

The people’s initiative method also requires a minimum of 3 percent of each legislative district’s total number of registered voters before the signatures are verified by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

After the Comelec verifies the signatures, it will conduct a referendum where people can vote to approve or reject the measure. A majority vote, or 50 percent of the total voters plus one, is needed to enact the proposed law.

One convenor of the initiative, Third Bagro, said Pirma Kapamilya was established after House lawmakers’ “unfair and unjustified decision” to deny ABS-CBN a new franchise.

A recent Social Weather Stations survey showed that three of four Filipinos supported ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal. A Veritas survey also found that 68 percent of Filipinos were willing to support a people’s initiative.

Should the people’s initiative pass national legislation, Bagro said it would be “historic,” as it would be the first since the ratification of the 1987 Constitution.

“Pag pumirma sila ng initiative bill, protesta ito sa ginawa ng Kongreso. Protesta ito sa statement ng Malacañang,” Former Bayan Muna representative Neri Colmenares said in a virtual forum conducted by Pirma Kapamilya and broadcasted by the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines.

“Is the people’s initiative worth undertaking? Yes. Ang paniniwala ko, in the long run, people will always win,” he added.

Pirma Kapamilya is steered by private sector individuals and volunteers not connected to ABS-CBN.

Copies of the group’s petition and the proposed franchise law can be accessed and downloaded on pirma.ph. John Ezekiel J. Hirro