Solon tells Lopez family: Sell ABS-CBN if you love 11,000 workers
MANILA, Philippines — House Deputy Speaker Luis Raymund Villafuerte Jr. on Friday urged the Lopez family to just sell ABS-CBN if they really care for its over 11,000 employees, following the denial of its bid for a new 25-year franchise by the lower chamber’s legislative franchise committee.
In an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel, the Camarines Sur 2nd District representative said he will support the franchise renewal of the network under new management and ownership.
“My suggestion to the Lopez family, they just sell the corporation, and if they really love the 11,000 employees or more and if they really want to serve the Filipino people, ibenta na lang nila ‘yung kumpanya (they should just sell the company),” said the lawmaker, who was among the 70 congressmen who voted against the granting of a franchise for the media giant.
Villafuerte said other big corporations can provide the capital to run ABS-CBN if the Lopez family decides to sell the network.
“This is just a suggestion. Tutal (Anyway), the Lopez family naman earned already billions and they have other companies. It is just a suggestion, of course. The decision is really entirely up to them,” he added.
He cited as an example Japan Tobacco Inc.’s acquisition of the Mighty Corporation in 2017, which paved the way for the payment of some P30 billion to the Philippine government to settle the latter’s unpaid taxes. He noted that the company was then able to retain its employees.
Villafuerte explained he voted against granting the network its franchise due to two alleged “glaring” violations: those related to taxes paid by ABS-CBN and the citizenship of its chairman emeritus, Eugenio “Gabby” Lopez III—both of which have been explained by the network in the House hearings.
Villafuerte also commented on the public’s call on social media to not elect in the 2022 elections, the congressmen who chose to deny the network its franchise.
“But the risk is if they win again in 2022, and ABS-CBN again applies with the same ownership structure, they might experience the same scenario where they will be denied,” he added.
Further, Villafuerte said President Rodrigo Duterte “never interfered, or called” any member of the House of Representatives to vote against the franchise. He said no one from the Executive made such a call.
Malacañang earlier maintained that the President was “neutral” on the franchise bid of the network.
But in a speech in December 2019, Duterte said the network should not expect to have its franchise renewed upon its expiration.
“If you are expecting na ma-renew ‘yan (franchise), I am sorry. I will see to it that you are out,” Duterte said, in addition to his previous pronouncements that he will block the franchise renewal of ABS-CBN for not airing his campaign advertisement for the 2016 elections and for alleged biased reporting.
ABS-CBN was ordered to stop its radio and television operations on May 5, a day after the expiration of its franchise.
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