MANILA – Cagayan de Oro 2nd District Rep. Rufus Rodriguez on Saturday said the House Committee on Legislative Franchises decision denying a new broadcast franchise for ABS-CBN Corp. has no basis.
“During the hearings of these franchise committee, it was clear that ABS-CBN was able to answer all questions, the constitutional aspect and legal aspect,” said Rodriguez, among staunch supporters of the network during the House committee hearings.
In a phone interview on ANC, Rodriguez said ABS-CBN officials managed to respond to allegations and clarify issues against the network, and that government regulators also attested to ABS-CBN's compliance with rules governing business.
“The decision has no basis. I’m just very saddened because I would have been able to vote if this was brought to the plenary,” he said.
On Friday, the administration-dominated House of Representatives Committee on Legislative Franchises voted 70 to 11 to reject a new broadcast franchise for ABS-CBN Corp, fulfilling a vow President Rodrigo Duterte had made to cease the network's operations.
Rodriguez said 200 congressmen were prevented to vote because the committee killed it at its level. Only 85 had voting power during Friday's crucial decision.
“We were denied our right and duty to be able to participate. Therefore, I believe it was a wrong thing to do,” he said
The vote puts jobs of more than 11,000 workers under the ABS-CBN group in peril at this time of pandemic.
The Kapamilya network’s programs enjoyed massive reach to more than 80 million Filipinos here and abroad. It not only delivers news and entertainment but also assistance to Filipinos in times of crisis.
“There is really no reason why there was a vote of denial. I could not really accept how that was done by my colleagues,” he said.
Rodriguez said a remedy would be if one of those who voted in the majority files a motion for reconsideration of the vote.
“The only way, under our rules, where we can have a reconsideration of the vote is if one of those who voted in the majority, one of the 70, will now file a motion for reconsideration and change his vote. That’s the only chance we have because, otherwise, the matter is now laid on the table and it cannot be brought to the plenary and I really wish it goes to the plenary,” he said.
Another option, Rodriguez said, is to have legislation by people’s initiative which has been done before, but it takes so much time.
“That’s a possibility. It will just be cumbersome because the COMELEC (Commission on Elections) would have to look at the signatures and all of that,” he said.
He added: “In terms of the possibility in Congress right now, unless you have a motion for reconsideration, there is no more, any other way to have it back to the committee and then go to the plenary.”