House starts TV5 probe process
MANILA, Philippines — Following Sagip party list lawmaker Rodante Marcoleta’s privilege speech against the announced merger of TV5 Network Inc. and ABS-CBN Corp., three members of the House of Representatives separately began on Wednesday the process that may result in the revocation of TV5’s franchise.
Zamboanga Sibugay Rep. Wilter Palma and Quezon City Rep. David Suarez separately filed House Resolution Nos. 280 and 281, directing the committee on legislative franchises to investigate the alleged foreign ownership of ABC Development Corp., or TV5 Network Inc.
The third measure was filed by Talino at Galing ng Pinoy party list Rep. Jose Teves Jr. in HR 282, directing the legislative franchises panel to probe the airing of ABS-CBN programs on TV5.
The proposed resolutions were filed after Marcoleta, in a privilege speech on Monday, opposed the merger, purportedly because it violated its franchise, Republic Act No. 2945, which was granted in 1960. That law did not carry an expiration date.
Aside from violating its franchise, Marcoleta claimed that the merger was done to circumvent Congress’ revocation in June 2020 of the franchise of ABS-CBN Corp.
Failure of gov’t agencies
Also, Marcoleta claimed that TV5 violated a National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) memorandum prohibiting a franchise grantee from entering into mergers with companies that have outstanding obligations to the government and without congressional approval.
Marcoleta claimed that his calculations showed that ABS-CBN still owed the government P1.6 trillion in taxes.
He also claimed that ABS-CBN did not have permits for digital broadcast, illegally sold millions of pay-per-view devices without NTC approval, and encrypted its signal and contents without NTC approval.
“There were flagrant violations, not only of the rules and law, but also the Constitution,” Marcoleta said.
“I think even the Constitution was desecrated by ABS-CBN by violating the exclusive Filipino ownership and management of mass media by the issuance of what we called the Philippine Depositary Receipts,” he said, referring to a method to circumvent foreign ownership restrictions.
He blamed government agencies, like the NTC and the Bureau of Internal Revenues, for failing in their regulatory functions.
He said TV5’s announced buyout of ABS-CBN’s outstanding stock meant that TV5 would assume ABS-CBN’s allegedly unpaid obligations to the government, but TV5 did not bother to clarify this matter with the government.
“With the substantial purchase of the outstanding stocks of ABS-CBN, I believe Section 10 of the franchise of TV5 was violated because the rights and obligations have virtually been transferred,” Marcoleta said.
“Is it allowed for a network without a congressionally granted franchise, because of established violations, to just ride on (the franchise of) another network without settling the obligations to the country, to the government?”
Marcoleta added, “Is it possible that something that cannot be achieved or obtained directly can be obtained indirectly? I think this is a basic dictum in law. We cannot do that.”
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.