‘Inaccurate’ to liken ABS-CBN franchise denial to ‘dismantling oligarchy’ — Villanueva
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Joel Villanueva on Tuesday said it is “inaccurate” to liken the rejection of ABS-CBN’s franchise bid to the “dismantling of oligarchy.”
In a message to reporters, Villanueva said the House legislative franchises committee’s decision to junk the franchise application of the country’s biggest broadcast network, which have been cleared of violations, sends a signal “that politicians can stop a business operation on a whim.”
“To some people who want to equate the non-renewal of [ABS-CBN] to dismantling of oligarchy is inaccurate. It has more negative effects to the economy and the business climate,” he said.
“To deny the franchise of a company which has no clear violations of our laws sends a signal that politicians can stop a business operation on a whim,” he added.
“This is not a conducive climate for investment and therefore contrary to public welfare,” he further said.
Villanueva, meanwhile, said that he has not seen a “significant change in oligarchs dominating the economy in the past decades.”
He attributed this to the country’s “institutional and legal arrangements that do not facilitate enough competition to challenge the market control of the few.”
“A reasonable strategy would be to dismantle policy constraints that hamper competition,” he added.
“Again if we don’t address institutional and legal constraints, we will just replace one oligarch with another,” he further said.
His statement comes after President Rodrigo Duterte said he has “dismantled” the oligarchy without declaring martial law during a speech before soldiers in Sulu.
Duterte, in the taped speech aired on Tuesday, did not specify any individual or company.
Malacañang also said it was only coincidental that the chief remarks came in the heels of the House panel’s decision to deny ABS-CBN of a new franchise to operate.
On the other hand, Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano likened ABS-CBN’s closure to putting an end to the “privilege of one family in using a public resource to protect and promote their private interests.”
But for Senator Sonny Angara, the over 11,000 employees of the network would be at the losing end of the House panel’s decision not to give the company a new franchise.
“Madami din ang pumuna na ibang-iba ang trato sa [ABS-CBN] kumpara sa ibang may hawak din ng prangkisa at ‘di naging patas ang laban,” he added.
(Many have also pointed out that the treatment to ABS-CBN’s franchise application was different from that of other franchise holders.)
Earlier Senator Grace Poe slammed the supposed double standard in the franchise applications of ABS-CBN and Mislatel consortium—now Dito Telecommunity Corp.
Reacting to Duterte’s recent remarks, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go believes the President was not “pertaining to any specific case but was talking about the impact of the administration’s continuing fight against corruption in his address to the military recently.”
“This fight against corruption and abusive practices stems from his love for country,” he said.
“That is why when oligarchs, terrorists, criminals and abusive or corrupt officials try to harm or take advantage of the people—in the eyes of the President, they are the enemies who threaten our democratic way of life,” he added.
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