Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte took her challenger to task for voting to shutter ABS-CBN Corp at the onset of the pandemic and leaving thousands jobless, as she campaigned for reelection in the country's most vote-rich city.
Belmonte did not mention by name Anakalusugan Rep. Mike Defensor, the only mayoral candidate in Quezon City that fit that description. The inumbent also took a swipe at the lawmaker for promoting the antiparasitic drug Ivermectin as COVID treatment.
"Yung iba diyan, mas inuna ang pagpapasara sa ABS-CBN. 'Yan may resibo. 'Yan ang ipaliwanag mo sa mga tao na habang nasa gitna tayo ng krisis, libo-libong pamilya ang nagtiis at natiis mong mawalan ng trabaho. Ni hindi mo insip kung paano na ang pagkain at pag-aaral ng mga anak ng mga taga-ABS-CBN o mga negosyong nakadepende sa kumpanyang yan na nagsara din," she said.
ABS-CBN headquarters is located in Quezon City and its star-building machinery has earned for metropolis the nickname "City of Stars". In February 2020, Belmonte issued a statement in support of the Lopez-owned broadcaster's franchise renewal.
ABS-CBN was taken off the air in May 2020 after its franchise expired and it ceased broadcast permanently in July that same year after 70 members of a House of Representatives committee, including Defensor, voted to deny the franchise application.
Opponents of the franchise renewal raised ABS-CBN's alleged non-failure of taxes, "biased" news coverage, and foreign ownership that violated the constitution. ABS-CBN executives and resource personnel refuted all allegations in marathon hearings.
With 1.4 million registered voters based on Comelec data, Quezon City is the most vote-rich city in the Philippines and 14th over-all if the ranking also includes provinces. Cebu and Cavite lead the list.
Quezon City is also home to headquarters of the agriculture, agrarian reform and environment departments and major universities led by UP Diliman and Ateneo de Manila. ABS-CBN's erstwhile rival, GMA Network, is also located in the city.