12 hearings, 100 hours spent for parity on ABS-CBN's franchise bid: Defensor

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 09 2020 03:07 PM | Updated as of Jul 09 2020 03:57 PM

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MANILA (UPDATE) - A joint House panel conducted 12 hearings amounting to nearly 100 hours into issues surrounding the franchise of ABS-CBN, a congressman said Thursday as the 2 panels met for a "summation" before the legislative franchises committee decides on whether to grant or deny the application. 

"Kinakailangan natin itong gawin upang tugunan ang panawagan ni Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano na kung saan sinabi niya patas, komprehensibo ang pagtatalakay ng mga isyu kaugnayan sa prangkisa ng ABS-CBN," said Anakalusugan Rep. Mike Defensor, vice-chairman of the House committee on good government and public accountability. 

(We need to do this to heed Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano's call for a fair and comprehensive discussion on issues related to ABS-CBN's franchise.)

"Sapat po siguro ang 12 araw at magiging summation ngayon upang mabigyan ang miyembro ng legislative franchises at para na rin sa paggabay ng mga miyembro ng Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability Committee."

(Twelve days and this summation hearing would surely be enough to guide the members of the committee on legislative franchises and the members of the good government and public accountability committee.)

Speaker Cayetano has called for a "conscience vote" instead of a party vote on ABS-CBN's franchise application. 

Defensor said lawmakers will decide on Thursday when to vote.

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said he has submitted his summation on the various issues surrounding ABS-CBN's franchise. 

In an interview with ANC, Lagman said he will not be casting a vote since he is not a member of the legislative franchise committee.

He earlier said ABS-CBN "rightly" deserves a new broadcast franchise, saying all issues were resolved in favor of the network.

Abang Lingkod Party-list Rep. Joseph Paduano, meantime, withdrew his co-authorship of House Bill 3717 which aims to renew ABS-CBN's franchise, citing ABS-CBN's supposed use of its subsidiary Big Dipper as a tax shield and the network's alleged biased reporting.

The Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Philippine Economic Zone Authority testified last week that Big Dipper pays the correct taxes and was legally allowed to enjoy tax incentives.

"With revelations behind the media network, though it is hard for me, I came to a conclusion that I am withdrawing my co-authorship," he said.

"Before I end, I wish to ask for apology and understanding of my colleagues, Rep. Joy Tambunting, the principal author of the said House bill and to ABS-CBN President sir Carlo Katigbak and to the ABS-CBN family."

The ABS-CBN group, which has some 11,000 workers, went off air on May 5 on orders of the National Telecommunications Commission, citing the expiry of the network's franchise the day before. 

The NTC earlier committed to grant ABS-CBN provisional authority to operate while Congress deliberates on several measures for its fresh license or franchise renewal.

The shutdown "has deprived more than 69 million Filipinos of the kind of information, analysis and commentary, and public service provided by ABS-CBN News," including migrant workers, and those without internet connection and are reached solely by the network's signal, Integrated News chief Ma. Regina Reyes told lawmakers last Monday. 

Watch the livestream of the House inquiry here:

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