Poe not sure if some solons voted according to conscience on ABS-CBN franchise
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Grace Poe on Monday said she is not sure if the congressmen voted according to their conscience when the voting for the grant of a new franchise for ABS-CBN revealed that some solons who had earlier expressed support for the media giant suddenly opposed its renewal.
An overwhelming 70 members of the House legislative franchises committee voted to reject the franchise bid of ABS-CBN, while only 11 voted against the denial.
Asked if the panel’s decision was a product of a “conscience vote,” Poe said: “Ewan ko sa kanila kasi sila naman ang nakakarinig ng kanilang konsensya (I don’t know about them, because they are the only ones who can hear their conscience).”
“Pero marami doon sa mga bumoto laban sa prangkisa ng ABS-CBN, nagtaka lang ako kasi nung umpisa e sila pa nga mismo nag-file ng bill to co-author the franchise of ABS-CBN,” she said in an interview with CNN Philippines’ “The Source” on Monday.
(But a lot of those who voted against the franchise of ABS-CBN, I’m puzzled that they are the same people who earlier wanted to be co-authors of ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal bills.)
Poe chairs the Senate public services committee, which is tasked to hear legislative franchises.
She expressed belief that the House panel did not consider the statements made by government agencies during the hearings which cleared ABS-CBN of any violations.
“If you read the committee report it was actually very short and it was very vague. I mean, they came up with certain reasons. I think they touched on the citizenship issue of Gabby Lopez. They talked about violations of the franchise without really detailing which ones in particular and then they also talked about tax avoidance schemes but they didn’t also cite a statement that would prove that,” she said.
“It seems like it’s the complete opposite of what was discussed by the resource persons and experts backing more the side of ABS-CBN,” she added.
The senator further stressed that while Congress has the power to grant and cancel legislative franchises, its decision to do so “should not be based on their whim or maybe just their personal view.”
“In the case of the lower house, although they have the authority to cancel or grant a franchise, there should be parameters. It has to be based on facts, it has to be based on what the resource persons, on what the experts that they themselves invited had said,” she said.
Should their be violations on the part of ABS-CBN, these should be referred to concerned government agencies.
“Of course there were testimonies from former employees that they were not treated fairly but in any corporation or company, there would always be those that are legitimate cases against them and there’s a proper forum for that,” Poe said.
“It’s not really tantamount to a cancellation. For example, there should be complaints lodged with the DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment) or even with the courts and then the court and the DOLE can decide. But when you talk about a sweeping decision of cancelling a franchise, those things although important is not the only consideration to cancel a franchise,” she added.
Before the House panel voted on ABS-CBN’s franchise, the committee 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.
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