Palace remains ‘neutral’ on House rejection of ABS-CBN franchise bid
Marje Pelayo • July 10, 2020 • 334
MANILA, Philippines – Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque reiterated on Friday (July 10) that the Palace remains neutral on the issue of ABS-CBN franchise renewal.
In a statement after the House Committee on Legislative Franchises rejected the network’s franchise application, Roque said House Committee decision is a “sole prerogative of Congress” that the Executive Branch recognizes.
“The Palace has maintained a neutral stance on the issue as it respects the separation of powers between the two co-equal branches of government,” he said.
“Much as we want to work with the aforesaid media network, we have to abide by the resolution of the House committee,” he added.
Voting 70-11, the Committee chaired by Rep. Franz Alvarez adopted the resolution submitted by the Technical Working Group (TWG) rejecting the network’s bid for another 25-year franchise.
For his part, ABS-CBN President and CEO Carlo Katigbak in a statement said they ‘are deeply hurt’ by the House Committee’s decision saying, “We believe that we have been rendering a service that is meaningful and valuable to the Filipino public.”
Nevertheless, Katigbak said the network expressed its gratitude to the Committee for giving them the chance to air their side on all the issues and allegations raised against them.
“We remain committed to public service, and we hope to find other ways to achieve our mission. Together with our employees and our audiences all over the world, we share in your sadness over this setback,” he said.
“We look forward to the day when we can again reunite under our broadcast,” he further said.
MANILA, Philippines – Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon asserted that he was defending the freedom of the press and not the Lopezes after President Rodrigo Duterte accused him of defending the owners of the closed down media network ABS-CBN.
“I was defending freedom of the press, not the Lopezes. The closure of the ABS-CBN sent a chilling effect,” Drilon said in a statement issued shortly after Duterte’s fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA) at the Batasang Pambansa on July 27.
In the first five minutes of his SONA, Duterte lambasted Drilon over his “arrogant” statements on oligarchs and accused the senator of defending the Lopezes as he slammed “those who take advantage of a preoccupied government” amid the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
“One of them is Senator Frank Drilon. In an interview, he arrogantly mentioned, among others, that oligarchs need not be rich. Then he linked the anti-dynasty system with oligarchy and the topic was my daughter and son,” he said.
“This happened after the Committee on Franchise voted 70-11 to deny the grant of a franchise to ABS-CBN. Obviously, he was defending the Lopezes that they are not oligarchs,” he added.
In a forum last July 15, Drilon called on the president to push for the passage of a law prohibiting political dynasties in order to dismantle oligarchy in the country. He also said in the same forum that being rich does not equate to being an oligarch.
Drilon made the remark after Duterte said in a speech during his visit to Jolo on July 14 that he had dismantled oligarchy in the country without declaring martial law.
“As I said before, for democracy to thrive we need free press and to allow journalists to exercise complete freedom to do their mandate of reporting facts without fear,” Drilon said.
The lawmaker said he was also defending the 11,000 ABS-CBN employees who would lose jobs amid the pandemic.
“In the face of a pandemic, we need more access to information,” he said.
“I aired my support for the renewal of franchise of ABS-CBN because undeniably the network complements other stations in providing timely and accurate reportage even in the farthest locality unreachable to others, even to the government,” he added.
In a separate interview with UNTV on Tuesday, Drilon also said he owed nothing to the Lopezes.
“‘Yung mga Lopezes po, wala po akong utang na loob sa kanila. Kung ako po ay tumayo para sa ABS-CBN, yan po ay dahilan sa aking paningin na ang kalayaan ng pamamahayag o freedom of the press, malaking bagay po at importante sa ating demokrasya,” he reiterated.
He also denied Duterte’s allegation about his involvement when his former law firm drafted water concession agreements that allegedly contained provisions that are onerous and disadvantageous to the government.
“Hindi ko nga nakita kung ano ‘yung itsura nung agreement na ‘yun. Wala po akong kinalaman diyan… Wala po ako diyan. Hindi ko po alam. Hindi ko nakikita ‘yang kontratang ‘yan hanggang ngayon,” he said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Harlene Delgado)
MANILA, Philippines — Camarines Sur Representative Luis Ray Villafuerte has proposed the utilization of the frequency formerly used by ABS-CBN to advance distance learning in the country as face-to-face classes in schools have been put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The network’s radio and television frequencies are now available after Congress denied its application for a new franchise.
Under Villafuerte’s House Resolution 1044 field in the House of Representatives, the said frequencies may also be used for public information and to promote the national government’s anti-COVID campaigns.
A recent study by the World Bank estimates 1.6 billion individuals, or equivalent to 80 percent of the population of 161 countries in the world, have deferred their education due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. MNP (with details from Rey Pelayo)
MANILA, Philippines – A week after the House Committee on Legislative Franchises denied its bid for a new franchise, media network ABS-CBN Corp. announced on Wednesday (July 15) that it will lay off workers starting August 31.
In its official statement, the embattled Kapamilya network said it is forced to cease the operations of some of its businesses as a result of losing its franchise; thus, the retrenchment of workers.
“As much as it hurts us to implement this retrenchment program, this is the only way to ensure the continued employment of the rest of our Kapamilya,” the network said.
ABS-CBN Corp. assured it is doing its best to provide the affected employees with the proper separation and retirement benefits, as well as job placements.
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