Pro-ABS-CBN franchise solons urge colleagues to vote on conscience
MANILA, Philippines — More lawmakers called for conscience voting, with one saying history will be the ultimate judge, when they decide on the fate of ABS-CBN.
During the Kapihan ng Samahang Plaridel media forum, Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Arlene Brosas expressed hopes that her fellow lawmakers would put themselves in the shoes of ordinary citizens who will be affected if Congress would decide not to grant ABS-CBN a franchise.
“Andyan ang pangamba sa COVID-19 at ang kawalang katiyakan ng pagkukunan ng pambili ng pagkain sa araw-araw. Patuloy na pinagkakait ang hiling na mass testing kahit lagpas 50,000 na ang COVID-19 cases. Marami pa rin ang pinagkakaitan ng second tranche ng ayuda. Yun ba namang balita at impormasyon, ipagkakait din natin?” Brosas said.
(There is the threat of COVID-19 and the uncertainty of not having money to buy food every day. Mass testing is still not being granted even our COVID-19 cases has breached 50,000. There are many who were not given the second tranche of assistance. Are we also not give them news and information?)
“Sa pagboto natin sa prangkisa ng ABS-CBN, dapat nating tandaan: kasaysayan at hindi lang konsensya ang uusig sa atin. At sa puntong ito, kailangan nating humanay sa panig ng sambayanan,” she added.
(In voting for the franchise of ABS-CBN, let us remember: history and not only our conscience will judge us. At this point, we need to side with our countrymen.)
Meanwhile, Cagayan de Oro City 2nd District Rep. Rufus Rodriguez echoed the call of House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano for those participating in the vote on whether or not a franchise will be granted to ABS-CBN to base their votes on their conscience.
“We had 12 hearings, and in these 12 hearings, it was shown that ABS-CBN did not violate any of the Constitution, statutes, and rules. So conscience dictates to our voting members that since there is no proof, nothing was proven in the hearings,” Rodriguez said.
“I would urge those who are going to vote tomorrow or the day we will decide to vote on conscience, the conscience that it will be your harassment and oppression if we will not approve the 25-year franchise,” the lawmaker added.
Rodriguez noted that the closure of ABS-CBN, should the network not be granted a franchise, will stifle press freedom especially that the network has been providing important information to millions of Filipinos.
“Vote of conscience so that we will be voting for the 11,000 employees of ABS-CBN and a vote for the people’s rights to information. We should vote on truth, on principle,” Rodriguez said.
Agusan Del Norte 1st District Rep. Lawrence Fortun likewise underscored that resource speakers invited in the series of hearings have cleared ABS-CBN of the allegations lodged against them.
The public, Fortun said, should also base their stand on the ABS-CBN issue on these pronouncements from the resource speakers from various government offices since they are “impartial and unbiased.”
“Sana naman ang ating mga members ng (I hope that the members of the) committee on legislative franchises will consult their conscience and be enlightened by the very official manifestations, statements, and positions of the different agencies, regulating bodies, and independent organisations that were invited and summoned to the committee to enlighten the committee on these issues,” Fortun said.
“We have all been one in saying from Day 1 hanggang sa (until) Day 12 that ABS-CBN did not violate laws, rules, and regulations,” the lawmaker added.
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate, meanwhile, said that the “larger picture” should also be considered in the lawmakers’ decision regarding the issue as he touched on the issues of press freedom and access to information.
Zarate said that while there are people who can live without ABS-CBN, there are “millions and millions” who consider the network as a part of their lives.
“Nakasasalay din dito ang usapin—the larger picture—ang karapatan ng ating mga mamamayan sa isang malayang daluyan ng impormasyon, ang karapatan ng ating mga mamamahayag na mag-ulat ng walang pagkitil sa kanilang karapatan na mag-ulat lalong-lalo na sa panahon na nasa isang malubhang krisis tayo na pinalala pa ng pandemya ng COVID,” Zarate said.
(What depends here is the bigger picture—the rights of our countrymen for access to information, the rights of our journalists to report especially now that we are facing a crisis worsened by the coronavirus pandemic.)
ACT-Teachers Partylist Rep. France Castro focused on the impact of the shut down on the education sector.
“Nakita natin na kapag nashutdown tong ABS-CBN, yung mga educational programs nila na ngayon [ay maapektuhan] ay nasa panahon tayo ng pandemya. Nangangailangan tayo ng alternatibo dahil mahirap sa panahon na ngayon yung mga face-to-face na mga klase,” Castro said.
(We see that if ABS-CBN will be shut down, the educational programs will be affected especially now we are in the middle of a pandemic. We will need an alternative because it is difficult to hold face-to-face classes.)
“Malaki ang maitutulong ng ABS-CBN sa pandemya na ito dahil doon sa pinapanawagan ng ating Department of Education, ng ating gobyerno, kaugnay noong paggamit ng iba’t-ibang pamamaraan na blended learning,” the lawmaker added.
(ABS-CBN can greatly help in this pandemic especially with the call of the Department of Education and of our government in relation to the use of blended learning.)
An emotional Parañaque City 2nd District Rep. Joy Tambunting, meanwhile, underscored the importance of preserving the jobs of those in ABS-CBN.
“’Pag tumingin kayo sa mga tricycle, jeep, bus, ang mga driver ng tricycle e medyo hirap na hirap na. ‘Pag nagpasada sila, tigi-tigisang tao lang ang sumasakay kaya hindi masusulit ang gasolinang binabayad. Wala silang halos kinikita,” Tambunting said.
(If we take a look at tricycles, jeeps, buses, the drivers of tricycles are having a hard time. If they will go on the road, only one person can ride at a time so the fuel they pay is not worth it.)
“Lahat ng ‘yan nangyayari sabay-sabay. Tapos eto pa. Pag nagsara ng tuluyan ang ABS-CBN, ilang tao ang mawawalan ng trabaho, 11,000 mahigit,” she added.
(All of these are happening simultaneously. And then we have this. If ABS-CBN will shut down, how many people will be affected? More than 11,000 workers.)
The House committees on legislative franchise and the committee on good government and public accountability have so far held 12 hearings where various issues lodged against ABS-CBN such as the citizenship of the network’s chair emeritus Gabby Lopez, the Lopez family’s reclamation of the company after the EDSA Revolution, the network’s involvement in alleged labor violations as well as tax-related issues, and their alleged political bias, among others, were discussed.
The joint committees are set to sum up the discussions on Thursday afternoon before they can vote. However, only the members of the legislative franchise committee, as well as the House officials who are considered ex officio members, will be able to vote.
Palawan 1st District Rep. Franz Alvarez, who chairs the legislative franchise committee, has said that there is no final schedule yet for the voting.