Vilma Santos on ABS-CBN franchise death: This is not the time to be heartless

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 13 2020 11:52 AM | Updated as of Jul 13 2020 12:06 PM

Batangas Rep. Vilma Santos-Recto attends a Congress session. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA— "This is not the time to be heartless." 

Batangas 6th District Rep. Vilma Santos-Recto on Monday voiced her opinions on various remedies to revive ABS-CBN's franchise after Congress killed the network's franchise bid last week. 

Speaking to ANC, Santos said the country is facing severe challenges including the novel coronavirus pandemic that has forced the closure of some companies and left some 7 million Filipinos jobless.

The Philippines is also facing the threat of 20 potential storms for the rest of the year, which could hit far-flung areas reached only by ABS-CBN's signal, she said. 

"Sasabihin naman nila na ginagamit na naman natin iyong pagdadrama natin para makuha ang simpatya ng tao. Hindi po. Gusto ko lang po sabihin sa inyo at nakikita ninyo sa paligid ninyo kung anong nangyayari ngayon sa bansa natin," she told ANC. 

(Critics will again say that we are using drama to gain people's sympathy. No. I just want to tell you about what you are seeing around you, what is happening to our country.) 

"Kailangan at this point in time nagtutulungan tayo para makapagbigay po tayo ng isang malaking solusyon para sa mga problemang dumadating sa bansa natin. This is not the time to be heartless... Huwag ninyong isara ang mata ninyo at gamitin n'yo rin ang puso nyo," she added. 

(We need to help each other come up with a solution on the problems that come to our country. This is not the time to be heartless. Don't close you eyes and use your hearts.) 

TESTIMONIES ON ABS-CBN COMPLIANCE 'SET ASIDE' 

The House franchise committee on Thursday voted 70-11 in favor of a working group's recommendation to reject ABS-CBN's franchise renewal, following marathon hearings that spanned nearly 100 hours, among the longest in Congress history. 

The working group was formed on Thursday and worked overnight on its report, copies of which were distributed only an hour before the vote.

Santos-Recto said this deprived lawmakers the chance to read the document in full. 

"First time kong maka-ekspiryensya na isang TWG (technical working group) na natapos overnight," said Santos-Recto, who is on her fifth year as lawmaker.

(This is my first time to experience a TWG that finished overnight.)

She said the report "set aside" the testimony of various government agencies that ABS-CBN obeyed the law. 

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Santos-Recto said she did not know if lobbying led some authors of bills for ABS-CBN's franchise to back down from supporting the broadcaster. 

"Siyempre if you're part of the supermajority, kailangan in a way nakasuporta ka rin sa mga major na mga batas na ipatutupad," said the lawmaker. "But again, at the end of the day conscience vote. Hindi ko alam kung anong nangyari sa iba." 

(Of course, if you're part of the supermajority, you need in a way to support the major laws that will be pushed. But again, at the end of the day it should be a conscience vote. I don't know what happened to the others.)


CONGRESS RECONSIDERATION, PEOPLE'S INITIATIVE 
Santos-Recto confirmed new bills for ABS-CBN's franchise can be filed anytime but noted that these could face an uphill battle due to politics. 

"Sana po dumating iyong time na lumawak pa iyong ating pag-iisip at puso para ma-consider naman po natin," she added. 

(I hope the time comes that we can widen our minds and hearts to consider this.)

Several law experts have also raised the possibility of securing a license for ABS-CBN through a people's initiative that would require the signatures of at least 10 percent of voters. 

"To be honest, I don't think magiging madali iyan, pero kung talagang kakailanganin at gagawin iyan, I will join them," Santos-Recto said.