Cayetano defends ABS-CBN franchise denial

Alan Peter S. Cayetano
Alan Peter Cayetano

SPEAKER Alan Peter Cayetano maintained that the House committee on legislative franchises did fair, impartial and comprehensive hearings on the franchise application of ABS-CBN Corp.

Cayetano likewise appealed to the public to carefully read the findings of the committee which are the grounds why the television network franchise was denied.

As his practice, Cayetano did not participate in the voting although he is an ex-officio member.

On a vote of 70-11, the 25-year franchise application to operate, broadcast and maintain ABS-CBN Corp. was denied.

“We have committed and delivered a time for Congress -- through the Committee on Legislative Franchise - to  conduct a fair, impartial, thorough, and comprehensive hearing on the franchise application of the Lopez-owned ABS-CBN,” Cayetano said.

The House leadership asked the people to read the findings carefully in order to appreciate the reasons for their decision.

“Because of the highly partisan nature of this issue, we accepted from the start that there would be those who will vehemently disagree with the committee’s decision, no matter what they resolve,” he added.

Cayetano likewise stressed that the process was by no means easy for anyone involved in the proceedings, but assured the public that the final resolution was not arrived at by the Committee on Legislative Franchises without serious consideration of the overall impact it will have on the nation.

He also said that, despite the differences in opinions, he hopes that everyone will eventually come to respect the decision of the committee and its members and begin to move forward in rebuilding the relationships that were strained by the issue.

Meanwhile, the Technical Working Group (TWG) in its findings stated that the Committee exhaustively discussed: Lopez’s American citizenship and doubtful Filipino citizenship and allegiance to the Philippines;  ABS-CBN’s possible violation of the Constitutional prohibition against ownership and management of mass media by foreigners;  ABS-CBN’s numerous violations of the terms of its legislative franchise; ABS-CBN’s questionable and unjust, if not immoral, tax avoidance schemes; ABS-CBN’s apparent use of a dummy; and  ABS-CBN’s less than exemplary labor practices.

The TWG also took the opportunity to present policy recommendations with a view to crafting more responsive and effective legislation to address the many unresolved issues discussed in the course of ABS-CBN’s franchise application.