Cayetano says media engagement in partisan politics is not press freedom | Inquirer News

Cayetano says media engagement in partisan politics is not press freedom

/ 09:51 AM July 10, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano has slammed the involvement of media in partisan politics, saying it is not considered a practice of press freedom.

In his speech before the summation of discussion on ABS-CBN’s bid for a 25-year franchise on Thursday, Cayetano touched on media companies supporting “handpicked candidates,” which is one of the allegations thrown at the network amid its franchise application.

“How shall we decide on the claims that it will be a blow to press freedom if the owners of a private media corporation is denied the privilege of using public airwaves for a private business that protects their interest and supports their handpicked candidates while targeting those who oppose them?” Cayetano said.


“I submit that this is not press freedom. It is the theft of government from the people while hiding under the pretense of press freedom,” the House Speaker added.


Cayetano said that big businesses, conjoined with commercial media, “should not be allowed to engage in partisan politics by wielding its power to protect their interest, meddle and interfere in elections, and surreptitiously support certain candidates in the guise of reporting the news.”

The House Speaker then compared ABS-CBN with its rival network GMA-7, saying that the latter is not being accused of bias in its reportage because it does not have any businesses to protect.

“[Sa GMA-7], may negative din naman po, binibira din naman po tayo o ilan po sa atin, pero bakit hindi po ina-accuse ng bias? Kasi po walang negosyong hiwalay na pinoprotektahan. So bantay na bantay ‘yung newscast sa kanilang kahalagahan na maging objektibo,” Cayetano said.

(GMA-7 also has negative reports, some of us are also being hit by them but why are they not being accused of bias? Because they do not have a separate business to protect. So their newscast is focused on the importance of being objective.)

“Hindi ko sinasabi na lahat ng mga may negosyo, ginagamit ‘yung kanilang media arm para protektahan ang kanilang negosyo. Ang sinasabi ko lang, we know that there is an evil wherein you put the two together,” the House Speaker added.

(I am not saying that all businesses are using their media arm to protect their business. All I am saying is, we know that there is an evil wherein you put the two together.)


In a Senate hearing in February, ABS-CBN president and chief executive officer Carlo Katigbak admitted that the network failed to air P7 million-worth of local political ads paid for by then-presidential candidate and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte in the 2016 presidential elections.

He said that they were able to refund approximately P4 million to Duterte, which the President had accepted.

But Katigbak noted that the network was able to air all of Duterte’s national ads in the presidential elections.

In November 2019, House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, who served as President Rodrigo Duterte’s running-mate in the 2016 elections, aired his personal issue with ABS-CBN’s alleged unfair air time given to vice presidential candidates during the campaign season.

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Katigbak later said that they also failed to air political advertisements of other vice-presidential candidates at that time such as former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, former Senator Bongbong Marcos, and Vice President Leni Robredo.


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