ABS-CBN goes off air

Martin Romualdez
House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep Martin Romualdez (center) discusses with Committee on Legislative Franchises Chairman Rep.Franz Alvarez (right) and Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability Chairman Rep.Jose Antonio Sy-Alvarado (left) the floor agenda at the plenary hall of the House of Representatives before the start of the session and voting for the Franchise of the ABS-CBN. Photo by Ver Noveno

Network denied franchise in House's final verdict

AFTER intense debates during the last 13 public hearings, the House committee on legislative franchises denied the ABS-CBN Corp. its petitiion for renewal of franchise.

70 of the 85 members of the committee voted in favor of the resolution denying the franchise application of ABS-CBN Corp. to construct, install, establish, operate and maintain radio and broadcasting stations in the Philippines.

About 11 lawmakers voted no, two inhibited, while one abstained.

The committee chaired  by Palawan Rep. Franz Alvarez  adopted the resolution submitted by the technical working group composed of Cebu Rep. Pablo John Garcia; Camiguin Rep. XJ Romualdo and Marikina Rep. Stella Quimbo.

The panel likewise adopted the recommendation of the TWG that all House bills and resolutions relative to the grant or renewal of the franchise application of the ABS-CBN Corp are laid on the table.

Committee vice chairman and Anakalusugan Rep. Mike Defensor clarified that under franchise ruling, laid on the table means kill the proposed laws.

During the hearings, the committee sought the position of the stakeholders, relevant government agencies and constituencies on the franchise application of ABS-CBN Corp.

The TWG after due consideration of the testimonies, documents, submission and arguments came up with its findings and recommendations contained in the TWG report.

Aside from Alvarez’ committee, the committee on good government and public accountability joined the hearings to discuss other issues pertaining to ABS-CBN’s alleged violations of the existing laws.

In the last 12 hearings, the House committees discussed various issues lodged against ABS-CBN, such as the citizenship of the network’s chair emeritus Gabby Lopez, the Lopez family’s reclamation of the company after the EDSA Revolution, the network’s involvement in alleged labor violations as well as tax-related issues, and their alleged political bias.

Vargas inhibits

One committee member, actor-turned-politician Quezon City Rep. Alfred Vargas opted to inhibit from voting,

“My heart goes to ABS-CBN, its employees, and other workers whose livelihood depends on the network,” Vargas said in a statement.

The solon cited Republic Act 6713 Section 7(a), on the Code of Conduct of Public Officials, and Sections 28 and 81 of Rule IX of the House Rules on Committee Voting, as well as avoidance of conflict of interest.

“This representation as an actor/producer has been engaged for artistic projects with the network,” he said.

“Thus, out of propriety and as dictated by law, I am duty-bound to inhibit myself from voting on the application for the franchise of ABS-CBN,” Vargas added.