Cayetano denies ‘rumors of threats’ from certain groups, House leaders on ABS-CBN franchise vote
MANILA, Philippines — Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano denied on Wednesday rumors that certain religious groups and leaders in the House of Representatives are using “threat and intimidation” to influence the votes of other lawmakers on granting media giant ABS-CBN a 25-year franchise.
Cayetano made the remark amid the upcoming voting of several lawmakers on whether or not ABS-CBN’s bid for a new franchise will pass the committee level in the House and be brought to the plenary floor for further debates.
“Rumors of threats and intimidation coming from certain groups, even linking it with specific religious organizations, and congressional leaders are completely false and is an unproductive exercise in trying to manipulate the vote to favor a particular decision,” Cayetano said in a statement.
Hearings on the ABS-CBN franchise are being presided by the House committee on legislative franchise and the committee on good government and public accountability.
However, only the 46 members of the legislative franchise committee, as well as the 44 House officials who are considered ex officio members, will be able to vote.
“Ironically, it is these clumsy attempts at mind conditioning that clearly pose a threat to the fairness and impartiality of the committee. By trying to poison the well of public opinion, those spreading this propaganda are trying to blackmail Congress into acceding to their demands,” Cayetano said.
“We advise all sides to continue to advocate, but never to engage in black propaganda and fake news,” he added.
Cayetano did not specify the sources of the said rumors but on Tuesday, a report claimed that presidential son and Davao City Rep. Paolo Duterte as well as religious group Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) “are reportedly stepping up pressure on lawmakers to shut the media giant down for good.”
The said report claimed that Duterte and INC are “supposedly lobbying separately with members of the House Legislative Franchises Committee to deny ABS-CBN’s franchise application.”
Further, the report claimed that lawmakers are being threatened with zero projects should they vote for the granting of the franchise to ABS-CBN.
Some lawmakers, the report stated, are even being threatened with physical harm if they decide to vote for the granting of the franchise.
But Cayetano said that the House leadership stands that the votes of the members of the lower chamber should be based on the information presented during the hearings.
“As the committee hearing the franchise of ABSCBN approaches the day where its members have to decide on the fate of the network, the House leadership would like reiterate that each vote must and will be based on the appreciation of the facts as they have been presented by both sides during these exhaustive proceedings, as well as the application of the relevant laws and public policy,” Cayetano said.
INQUIRER.net earlier asked legislative franchise committee chairman Palawan 1st District Rep. Franz Alvarez regarding the schedule of the voting.
Alvarez said arguments on various issues related to ABS-CBN’s franchise bid still have to be summarized before lawmakers could vote and that no schedule has been set yet for the voting.
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