FOR better understanding, Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano has urged the public to carefully read the findings of the House committee on legislative franchises rejecting the franchise application of the shuttered ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation.
“The House leadership asks that the people read the findings carefully in order to appreciate the reasons for their decision. And for those who do not agree, at the least, understand why the decision had to be so,” said Cayetano who did not vote as ex-officio member during Friday’s very crucial and historic decision of the panel chaired by Palawan Rep. Franz “Chikoy” Alvarez.
The panel voted 70 against 11 with two inhibitions and one abstention adopting the technical working group’s (TWG) resolution denying the franchise of ABS-CBN Channel 2 for violating its old franchise described by the panel as a special privilege.
Cayetano said the House committed and delivered a time for Congress to conduct fair, impartial, thorough, and comprehensive hearings on the application for franchise renewal of the ABS-CBN Corporation.
“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,” said Cayetano.
He 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.
Cayetano 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 was strained by the issue.
In its findings, the panel said 1. Mr. Lopez’s American citizenship and doubtful Filipino citizenship and allegiance to the Philippines; 2. ABS-CBN’s possible violation of the Constitutional prohibition against ownership and management of mass media by foreigners; 3. ABS-CBN’s numerous violations of the terms of its legislative franchise; 4. ABS-CBN’s questionable and unjust, if not immoral, tax avoidance schemes; 5. ABS-CBN’s apparent use of a dummy; and 6. 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.
On the other hand, the TWG assured the public and the House of Representatives that the decision made by the committee was in no way related to the freedom of the press, but rather a denial of a privilege granted by the State because ABS-CBN was seen as undeserving of the grant of a legislative franchise.