Solon hits ABS-CBN franchise denial: Conscience vote? We pray for them to live with that day and night
MANILA, Philippines — “They say this was a conscience vote. We respect that, and pray for them to live with that day and night.”
Magdalo Rep. Manuel Cabochan III said this Friday as he blasted the decision of the members of the House committee on legislative franchises to deny the application for a 25-year franchise of media giant ABS-CBN.
“This is a sad day not only for the thousands of employees of ABS-CBN, but for the nation,” Cabochan said in a statement.
“As the proceedings both in the Senate and the House have revealed, ABS-CBN had no tax violations or any pending case to prevent its renewal of franchise. All requirements concerning its franchise are also complied with,” he added.
Cabochan argued that even if the “accusations and nitpicking” against ABS-CBN were valid, the courts should have been the one to deal with the issues and not Congress.
The lawmaker likewise pointed out that President Rodrigo once said that he would have ABS-CBN closed down.
“We should remember that the President made a promise to close down ABS-CBN, and today, he succeeded. But at what cost? This all boils down to attack on press freedom. This is alarming for all journalists as it sets a dangerous precedent,” Cabochan said.
“Now that even a broadcasting network was shut down, all the more that we should not be silent. And we must be vigilant for no one knows what may be next,” he added.
Further, the lawmaker said: “We must muster our courage, for one day we all must make a stand for our values, freedom, and the institutions which have been, are being, and about to be taken away and destroyed.”
Meanwhile, Kabataan Partylist Rep. Sarah Elago said that instead of giving priority to strengthening the health and social amelioration system in the country, the government only added to the problem by posing a threat to the jobs of thousands of workers of ABS-CBN.
“The fault-finding against ABS-CBN has gone too far, leaving more jobs lost and millions of Filipinos without access to news and entertainment. Amid the pandemic when firms are closing and downsizing with millions of displaced workers, and unemployment is at an all-time high, the government must focus instead on supporting local enterprises and preserving jobs,” Elago said in a statement.
An overwhelming 70 lawmakers voted to deny the franchise application of ABS-CBN while only 10 voted in support of it.
The vote came after the House legislative franchise and good government and public accountability committees held 13 hearings tackling various issues such as citizenship of the network’s chairman emeritus Gabby Lopez, alleged labor violations, tax evasion, as well as alleged political bias, among others. [ac]
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