After ABS-CBN’s merger, Marcoleta now sets sights on TV5: Congress must probe deal
MANILA, Philippines — Sagip party-list Rep. Rodante Marcoleta believes Congress, particularly the House of Representatives, must look at the deal between broadcasting giants ABS-CBN and TV5, claiming that such a merger violates laws and the 1987 Constitution.
But during his privilege speech on Monday’s session, Marcoleta — a staunch critic of ABS-CBN — also singled out TV5, implying that it also breaches the Constitution by having links to foreign ownerships.
Marcoleta did not mention who the foreign owner was, but he said TV5, supposedly owned by MediaQuest Holdings, is under the PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund. The lawmaker said the PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund, on the other hand, is owned by an Indonesian national.
“This particular deal must be looked into Mr. Speaker, and I think, because of this deal, we have yet to have let the proverbial cat out of the bag Mr. Speaker. Why? MediaQuest, the parent company of TV5, is owned by PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund. And the grapevine Mr. Speaker is so loud that PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund is owned by an Indonesian national,” Marcoleta said.
“So if we will reminisce, Mr. Speaker, that the PDRs were utilized indirectly as conduits for foreigners to own mass media in this country by desecrating and circumventing the very Constitution that we have, baka naman ang mangyari, ganito rin Mr. Speaker, magigising na lang tayo and we will have to see deja vu once again,” he added.
TV5 and PLDT are companies linked to business mogul Manny V. Pangilinan, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Hong Kong-based First Pacific Holdings.
But aside from TV5’s ownership, Marcoleta also asked whether it is okay for ABS-CBN to find a way towards free television operation again even if Congress has not granted it a new franchise yet, and despite it supposedly not settling obligations to the government.
“Pupwede ba Mr. Speaker, na ang isang network na hindi na natin binigyan ng lisensya because of these established violations, wala na siyang prangkisa, pwede ba siyang sumakay nang gano’n gano’n lang without settling the obligations to the country, to the government?” he asked.
“Mr. Speaker, somebody said that the only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. I humbly seek the good men of this chamber, Mr. Speaker, to unite and rally behind a good cause and do something,” he added.
Marcoleta was one of the main voices who pushed against the provision of a franchise to ABS-CBN in 2020 during the 18th Congress. As a result, last May 5, 2020, ABS-CBN’s free television and radio broadcasts ceased airing after the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) issued a cease and desist order against the network.
ABS-CBN’s franchise expired a day before that, on May 4.
The said network went off air despite NTC vowing during a Congressional hearing that it would be allowed to broadcast on a provisional authority. NTC then noted that while other networks were allowed to continue operating despite their respective franchises still being deliberated, ABS-CBN could not be given the same privilege as there were concerns about the validity of their franchise.
A few hours before the network was shut down, NTC Deputy Commissioner Edgardo Cabarios told ABS-CBN’s radio station DZMM that questions about the franchise’s validity stemmed from the quo warranto petition filed by Jose Calida, now chairperson of the Commission on Audit.
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