ABS-CBN franchise issue not about silencing the media – Cayetano
MANILA, Philippines — The ABS-CBN franchise issue is not about curtailing the freedom of the press, House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said Wednesday.
After the House of Representatives convened into a House committee of the whole to tackle House Bill No. 6732 granting ABS-CBN a provisional franchise to operate until the end of October 2020, Cayetano delivered his sponsorship speech where he addressed several sectors in relation to the franchise issue –and this included the media.
In arguing that the issue is not about silencing the media, Cayetano cited the continuous operations of ABS-CBN on its online platform.
“The fact that ABS-CBN is still able to broadcast its content even after its franchise has been peremptorily terminated shows that this issue is not, nor has it ever been about silencing media nor curtailing the freedom of the press,” Cayetano pointed out.
“Just look at the social networking platforms and you will see that those freedoms are alive, well, and undeniably thriving in the Philippines,” he added.
Cayetano also addressed journalists, saying that while he respects the call for the lower chamber to tackle the franchise renewal bid of ABS-CBN, lawmakers could not simply approve the franchise.
“I respect that you have to make a stand in calling for a hearing, katulad ng (just like the) statement ng (of) Senate media na mga kaibigan natin (who are our friends). I respect that you are calling us out for our failure to do this sooner. I even respect that some of you put the blame on me, on Alan Peter Cayetano personally,” Cayetano said.
“But when you blindly call for the approval of the franchise without having heard all sides of the story, then you show yourselves not as advocates of a fair and balanced presentation of the facts as is taught in all the schools that teach journalism, as journalists are sworn to, but you simply become plain and simple propagandists,” he added.
Cayetano also said the media should not “weaponize this issue for your own personal agenda.”
“That is a disservice to the very public in whose name you claim to stand for,” he said.
On May 5, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) issued a cease and desist order against ABS-CBN, directing the network to stop its broadcast operations after its franchise lapsed on May 4.
The cease and desist order came two days after Solicitor General Jose Calida warned NTC against issuing a provisional authority to allow ABS-CBN to continue its operations even beyond the expiration of its legislative franchise.
ABS-CBN obeyed NTC’s directive and went off the air at 7:52 p.m. on May 5.
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