Zubiri to House solons: Give ABS-CBN a chance
MANILA, Philippines — Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri is appealing to House lawmakers to give ABS-CBN a chance to continue operating, saying that a complete shutdown of the network will be “too unreasonable and excessive.”
“Give them a chance to reform rather than completely shutting down the institution such as ABS-CBN,” Zubiri said in an online media interview on Thursday.
Reforms can be made to the network’s policy on airing political ads, among others, he added.
“For example, once you’ve paid for a political ad it must be shown at that time slot. So the network should no longer accept payments and reservations once the slots are full as that would be a violation of a franchise. A very reasonable amendment, I believe,” he said in a separate message to reporters.
“That would prevent what had happened to me and others like the President whose ads were bumped off due to overbooking,” he added.
President Rodrigo Duterte has been vocal against the franchise renewal of the media giant, which according to him, had failed to air his paid campaign advertisement during the 2016 presidential elections.
ABS-CBN president and chief executive officer Carlo Katigbak have already apologized to Duterte.
Katigbak noted that the network had aired all of the over P100 million worth of national ads paid by Duterte at the time but admitted that they were unable to air all of the local ads paid for by Duterte in 2016 due to limited slots.
Zubiri, meanwhile, stressed that personal grievances against ABS-CBN should not affect its franchise renewal bid.
“I, too, have had my share of disappointments and disagreements with ABS-CBN like the non-airing of my political ads but I would never have wished for them to shut down,” he said.
“I may [have had] times that I was angry with their reporting but I would never allow my personal feelings to get in the way of what is for the greater good of the public,” he added.
House lawmakers are set to vote on ABS-CBN’s bid for a fresh 25-year franchise, which expired in May, following a series of hours-long hearings.
Zubiri called on congressmen to vote according to their conscience, pointing out that the non-renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise will result in job loss and will cut down a vital source of information for Filipinos.
“I’m saddened by the thought of ABS-CBN not being granted a franchise. I’m sad for the 11,000 employees who have to explain to their wives, husbands, and children how they will feed, clothe, and house them now that they are jobless,” he said.
“I’m sad for our economy as it would lose billions of pesos of sorely needed tax revenues. And I’m saddened with the fact that my constituents in the far-flung areas of Mindanao and the rest of the Philippines will permanently not have a source of information for the news and entertainment,” he added.
If the members of the House franchise committee vote yes, ABS-CBN’s franchise will still be up for plenary deliberations.
On the other hand, a majority of no votes would lead to a permanent shutdown of the ABS-CBN’s broadcasting service at least for the duration of the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.
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