READ: House TWG’s report on denial of ABS-CBN’s franchise bid
MANILA, Philippines — The members of the House committee on legislative franchises on Friday handed their decision on the fate of ABS-CBN: A resounding “yes” to reject the network’s bid for another 25-year franchise.
Seventy affirmative votes were more than enough to adopt the panel’s technical working group’s (TWG) report recommending the denial of ABS-CBN’s franchise application.
Only 11 lawmakers voted against the report, while two inhibited and one chose to abstain.
“In resolving the franchise application of ABS-CBN, this Committee assures the House of Representatives that this matter is in no way related to the freedom of the press. It is what it is — a denial of a privilege granted by the State because the applicant was seen as undeserving of the grant of a legislative franchise,” the report read.
“By no means can this franchise application be related to press freedom. If it were so, then all applicants for legislative franchises covering mass media could simply claim such freedom and force the hand of this Committee each time. Such a scenario is totally inconsistent with the nature of legislative franchises as a mere privilege and never a matter of right,” it added.
The committee likewise moved to adopt the recommendations of the report which includes a House probe, in aid of legislation, the practice of issuance of Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDRs) for industries required to be wholly-owned and -managed by Filipinos.
Further, the report also recommended that a relevant committee in the House to probe, in aid of legislation, on the “various digital platform offerings of broadcast entities in order to protect public interest and ensure compliance with legislative franchises or recommend amendments thereto to take into account technological advancements in digital broadcasting technology.”
Other issues that can be probed, the report further said, are the current state of giving tax incentives to “prevent abusive tax avoidance measures” and questions on how ABS-CBN was able to recover its properties from the government “without recourse to the mandated procedures.”
Members of the TWG include Deputy Speaker Pablo John Garcia, Camiguin Rep. Xavier Jesus Romualdo, and Marikina 2nd District Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo.
While all three signed the TWG report, Quimbo specifically noted “I dissent” in her signature.