Villafuerte: Critics ’mistakenly praising’ 11 solons who supported ABS-CBN’s franchise bid
MANILA, Philippines — For Deputy Speaker Luis Raymund Villafuerte, critics are “mistakenly praising” the 11 lawmakers who voted in support of ABS-CBN’s franchise bid, saying that the 70 lawmakers who went against it “had been brave enough to stand by their conviction.”
Villafuerte, who voted to deny ABS-CBN’s franchise, said that the decision of the House committee on legislative franchises to deny the franchise application of ABS-CBN was a “tough and difficult” decision.
The House leader, however, insisted the decision was based on the hearings conducted to tackle various issues hounding the network’s application such as the citizenship of the network’s chairman emeritus Gabby Lopez, alleged labor violations, tax evasion, as well as alleged political bias, among others.
“Critics of the committee decision are mistakenly praising the 11 who had voted for the renewal of the franchise and pillorying the 70 who had been brave enough to stand by their conviction in voting against the renewal of the franchise on the strength of the findings of the Committee Report on ABS-CBN’s array of violations as a TV network,” Villafuerte said in a statement.
The House leader then urged critics to read first the committee report that led to the decision “before shooting from the hip–as they have been [wanting] to do in their incessant attacks against the Duterte administration and the House leadership.”
“The 70 legislators who voted against renewal had arrived at a difficult decision in upholding the Committee Report, as it was convenient and popular to just vote for renewal, given the sustained media offensive of the TV network and its allies in the media–along with members of the political opposition who had shrewdly capitalized on this issue to score pogi points in the press by foisting phony issues upon the public at the expense of President Duterte,” Villafuerte said.
House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano earlier urged the public to “read the findings carefully” as he sought understanding for the decision that denied the bid of ABS-CBN for a fresh 25-year franchise.
Cayetano likewise expressed hopes that the public will eventually respect the decision of the committee.
In a separate statement, Cayetano also said that the owners of ABS-CBN are to blame for the network’s shut down and not the government.
Earlier, 70 lawmakers voted against granting ABS-CBN a franchise, with only 11 lawmakers voting for the granting of the franchise.
But nearly a week since the vote, the committee has yet to release an official list of the votes of the members and ex-officio members of the committee.
The network has been off the air since early May after its television and radio operations nationwide were ordered shut following the expiration of its 25-year franchise, the renewal of which was pending in Congress at the time.
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