Lawmakers to decide on ABS CBN franchise renewal as summation of issues presented


(Eagle News) – Lawmakers are now set to vote on whether to grant or to deny the application of media network ABS CBN to renew its franchise which expired on May 4 this year.

The summation of the issues and evidence raised in the past 12 hearings started Thursday, July 9, considered Day 13 of the hearing conducted by House Committee on Legislative Franchise jointly with the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability.

Various lawmakers presented their own assessments of the issues.

It is the end of the hearings for the ABS CBN franchise renewal hearings before lawmakers vote whether to grant or to deny the media network another 25-year legislative franchise.

Legislative Franchise committee chair Palawan Rep. Franz Alvarez said that the 12 hearings and the summation of issues on the final day of the hearing on Thursday should be enough for the lawmakers to vote on the issue.

Rep. Mike Defensor, vice-chair of the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability said that the past 12 hearings had a total of around 100 hours of deliberations on the matter.

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate, Baguio City Rep. Mark Go, and Cebu City Rep. Rodrigo “Bebot” Abellonosa made manifestations for ABS CBN, while Anakalusugan Rep. Defensor, Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr., and House Deputy Speaker Rodante Marcoleta presented their manifestiona and summation of issues against ABS CBN franchise renewal.

Defensor even pointed out the oligarchic nature of the ownership of the Lopez family of power firms, including Meralco, and of ABS CBN.

“I say Mr. Chairman that a yes vote to stop the franchise is a yes vote to stop an oligarchic state,” he said amid claims that a yes vote for a franchise was a yes for press freedom.

Rep. Barzaga pointed out in his manifestation pointed out that press freedom was not an issue in the grant or denial of a franchise for the media giant, as he cited the issues against ABS CBN.

Rep. Marcoleta also explained in detail why the media network should not be granted another legislative franchise, including the alleged anomalies in the land title for the lot it occupies.

Those pushing for a franchise, meanwhile, pointed out how a denial of franchise for the media giant would mean loss of work for its employees and workers amid the pandemic.

The last hearing on Monday, July 6, ended almost midnight as lawmakers discussed the alleged biased reporting of the media giant, the last of issues raised against the network.

The other issues raised in the past hearings were on the dual citizenship and alleged dual allegiance of its chairman emeritus Eugenio “Gabby” Lopez III, the alleged foreign ownership of the media network through Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDRs) bought by foreigners, its alleged tax avoidance schemes, its use of multiple channels in violation of its original franchise, and the violation of labor laws with its failure to regularize its workers.

-Kabayan partylist solon withdraws support for ABS-CBN franchise renewal-

On Monday night, July 6, on the last day of the hearing on the ABS CBN franchise renewal, a lawmaker who was among the authors of a House bill seeking to grant renewal of the ABS CBN franchise had decided to withdraw his support for this after listening to the various testimonies and evidence presented during the hearings on the franchise renewal application of the media giant.

Rep. Ron Salo of Kabayan partylist said that he decided to withdraw his authorship of House Bill 6901, saying ABS CBN had “failed to successfully rebut the long list of alleged violations” against it.

He said that initially, the Kabayan partylist thought that ABS CBN was worthy for a new lease but after the hearings, he said that evidence and testimonies have shown that its violations of the law, including labor laws, were so many that they at Kabayan decided not to support its franchise renewal anymore.

“At the time that I filed the bill, we were of the impression that ABS CBN will be able to fully explain and rebut the numerous violations hurled against it,” Salo said.

But he said that “after spending many days, several weeks and countless hours listening to testimonies and answers of resource persons both for and against the grant of a franchise for ABS CBN in which I have actively participated” his partylist and his constituents are convinced that the evidence favored those pushing for the non-renewal of its franchise.

“My partylist deemed that ABS CBN failed to successfully rebut the long list of alleged violations and thus this representation cannot anymore support the grant of a new franchise for ABS CBN,” Salo said.

Dahil dito, hindi na kayang suportahan ng Kabayan Partylist ng bagong prangkisa sa ABS CBN,” he said.

On Thursday, July 9, another partylist lawmaker, Abang Lingkod Partylist Rep. Joseph Paduano, gave his manifestation on his decision to withdraw authorship of House Bill 3713 that aims to grant another franchise for ABS CBN.

He said that after silently listening to what has been presented during the past 12 hearings and after experiencing biased and inaccurate reporting of the media network in his hometown, he decided to withdraw his “co-authorship” of HB 3713.


(Eagle News Service)