Lagman tells ABS-CBN, TV5: Be brave, seal investment deal as it is not illegal
MANILA, Philippines — Veteran lawmaker and Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman has urged network companies ABS-CBN and TV5 to “be brave and steadfast” in closing their business agreement, saying that no law has been violated.
Lagman also clarified in a statement on Thursday – a day after ABS-CBN and TV5 decided to delay the closing of their agreement to first answer questions stemming from lawmakers’ queries – that contrary to what was initially reported, there is no merger between the two networks.
“(Be) brave and steadfast in closing their business agreement which is aboveboard and violates no law or regulation,” Lagman told the two companies.
“There is no merger of ABS-CBN and TV5, and ABS-CBN’s minority investment in TV5 does not result in the acquisition of control,” he added.
READ: ABS-CBN, TV5 put deal on hold
ABS-CBN, which ceased broadcasting on free television and radio programs in May 2020 when its old franchise expired, found itself in the limelight again after it tried to strike a deal with TV5, where the former purchased a 35 percent stake.
However, some questions were raised at the House of Representatives – particularly from known ABS-CBN critic and Sagip party-list Rep. Rodante Marcoleta who said that Congress must investigate the deal.
Last August 15, Marcoleta delivered a privilege speech doubting whether ABS-CBN should be allowed to be back on free television while accusing TV5 of being owned by a foreign national.
READ: After ABS-CBN’s merger, Marcoleta now sets sights on TV5: Congress must probe deal
Two days after Marcoleta’s speech, three House members filed separate resolutions seeking a probe on the ABS-CBN-TV5 investment agreement.
READ: Solons file resolutions seeking probe on ABS-CBN, TV5 merger
On Wednesday, during the hearing of the House committee on legislative franchises about the issue, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) said it would ask TV5 for government clearances if the deal with ABS-CBN pushes through.
READ: NTC to ask TV5 for gov’t clearances if ABS-CBN deal proceeds
Lagman called this out, saying that requiring the networks to seek approval first from NTC, the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC), and other bodies is a violation of the right to contract.
It also steps on press freedom and free speech, the lawmaker said.
An official of the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) told the same House panel that there is no need to notify them about the transaction as the deal between ABS-CBN and TV5 did not break the P50 million threshold set by the Bayanihan 2 law.
READ: ABS-CBN and TV5 deal won’t need OK from competition commission – exec
“(Press freedom) is the instrument by which citizens keep their government informed of their needs, their aspirations and their grievances. It is the sharpest weapon in the fight to keep government responsible and efficient,” Lagman said.
“Without a vigilant press, the mistakes of every administration would go uncorrected and its abuses unexposed,” he added.
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.