ABS-CBN franchise bid rejection final

Franz Alvarez
Palawan Rep. Franz Alvarez

THE House committee on legislative franchises on Monday declared as final its decision of July 10, 2020 rejecting the franchise application of the shuttered ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation for violating its old franchise.

Palawan Rep. Franz Alvarez, panel chairman, said no one among the 70 lawmakers who voted in favor of denying the franchise application of the giant television network raised a motion for reconsideration 24 hours after last Friday’s voting.

“Wala pong nag-move ng motion for reconsideration. After 24 hours tapos na or lapsed na,” said Alvarez in an interview.

Under Section 40 or Reconsideration of the Rules of the House of Representatives this 18th Congress, “when a measure is adopted or lost, a Member of the committee who voted with the majority may move for its reconsideration during the same meeting or on the same succeeding day after the meeting, in which case the motion for reconsideration shall be made in writing. Only one motion for reconsideration shall be allowed.”

Voting 70 against 11, the Alvarez committee on Friday junked the franchise application of ABS-CBN Channel 2 for violating its old franchise described by the panel as a special privilege.

Alvarez also announced that two lawmakers inhibited and one abstained from the voting where the yes vote supported the adoption of the technical working group’s (TWG) resolution denying the franchise of ABS-CBN Channel 2.

He said the “Resolution Denying the Franchise Application of ABS-CBN Corporation to Construct, Install, Establish, Operate and Maintain Radio and Broadcasting Stations in the Philippines” was adopted.

After the House committees on legislative franchises and on good government and public accountability held 13 joint hearings on the franchise application of the giant network, the TWG pointed out that ABS-CBN Channel 2 violated its expired franchise because its former Chairman Eugenio Lopez III was both a Filipino and American citizen. The TWG also cited the issuance of Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDRs) to foreigners, meddling in politics, tax avoidance schemes; less than exemplary labor practices, inappropriate program content among others in denying the franchise of ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation. “Such a scenario is totally inconsistent with the nature of legislative franchises as a mere privilege and never a matter of right.  Wherefore, in view of the foregoing, the technical working group respectfully recommends the DENIAL of the franchise application of ABS CBN Corporation,” the TWG report stressed.

According to the TWG report, the issue of ABS-CBN “is in no way related to press freedom.”

“It is what it is — a denial of a privilege granted by the State because the applicant was seen as undeserving of the grant of a legislative franchise. By no means can this franchise application be related to press freedom. If it were so, then all applicants for legislative franchises covering mass media could simply claim such freedom and force the hand of this Committee each time,” the resolution said.

The 11 lawmakers who registered no votes to support the granting of legislative franchise to ABS-CBN include Deputy Speakers Mujiv Hataman of Basilan and Vilma Santos-Recto of Batangas, Laguna Rep. Sol Aragones, House Minority Leader and Manila Rep. Bienvenido Abante,

House Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate, Pangasinan Rep. Christopher “Toff” de Venecia, Camarines Sur Rep. Gabriel Bordado, Batangas Rep. Lianda Bolilia, North Cootabato Rep. Jose “Ping-Ping” Tejada, Manila Rep. Edward Maceda and House Assistant Minority Leader and Marikina City Rep. Stella Quimbo. Quezon City Rep. Alfred Vargas and Nueva Ecija Rep. Micaela Violago inhibited and Ako Bicol party-list Rep. Alfredo Garbin, Jr. abstained from the voting.