Garcia, Gullas, Mendoza: All 3 Cebuano House members vote against ABS-CBN franchise
CEBU CITY—All three Cebuano members of the House committee on legislative franchises voted to reject bills seeking to grant broadcast giant ABS-CBN a new franchise.
They are Pablo John Garcia, Eduardo Gullas and Democrito Mendoza.
Garcia is from Cebu’s third district and was member of the technical working group (TWG) that consolidated proceedings in a series of hearings on the ABS-CBN franchise.
Garcia recommended rejection of a new franchise allegedly because of the network’s foreign ownership and tax violations.
Gullas is from Cebu’s first district.
Mendoza won a seat in the House through the party-list elections as nominee of the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines, a party-list group that was born out of the moderate TUCP labor group.
They were among 68 other members of the lower chamber of Congress who voted to deny ABS-CBN a new franchise.
Mendoza was tight-lipped when asked by INQUIRER about his decision.
“The record is there. I won’t say any comment about that. It’s finished,” he said over the phone.
The INQUIRER also tried to reach Gullas for a statement but several phone calls were not answered as of 6 p.m. on Friday (July 10).
Garcia said many issues had been raised against ABS-CBN, including:
- Citizenship of Eugenio Lopez III, whose family owns the network and has dual citizenship as Filipino and American
- Foreign ownership allegedly through issuance of Philippine Depositary Receipts which was also true of other media companies
- Inappropriate program content which Garcia did not elaborate on
- Meddling in politics which Garcia also did not elaborate on
- Tax avoidance
- Questionable labor practices
“But I think one of the most serious is their artful dodging of the payment of taxes to the government through the use of corporate layering and tax havens,” Garcia told the INQUIRER.
He said ABS-CBN paid only P500 million in taxes compared with more than P3 billion paid by its rival network, GMA.
“If you’re granted a special privilege by the state, I think you ought to give back in equal, if not greater measure than ordinary people and corporate citizens,” said Garcia.
He also pointed to the failure of ABS-CBN to regularize more than half of its workforce despite many having worked for the network for several years.
“ABS-CBN makes much of the fact that 11,000 ‘employees’ will be affected. The same employees they refused to regularize despite decades of service,” he said.
In the TWG report, the committee on legislative franchises noted that only 25%, or 2,661 of the total 11,701 workers of ABS-CBN, are regular employees.
“While ABS-CBN gives its non-regular employees various company-initiated benefits, it can’t give the benefit most important and advantageous to them – security of tenure,” it said.
“It is unfortunate that a multi-billion company like ABS-CBN has not regularized its independent contractors, talents, contractuals, project, and seasonal workers who perform the functions of regular employees.”
Aside from Garcia, the TWG was composed of Representatives Xavier Jesus Romualdo of Camiguin and Stella Quimbo of Marikina. Among them, only Quimbo dissented in the recommendation to deny ABS-CBN a new franchise.
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