Congressmen voted on Friday to reject a new broadcast franchise for ABS-CBN Corp.
The votes permanently shut down a major part of the country’s largest media network, in what is seen as part of a worsening crackdown on press freedom under President Rodrigo Duterte.
The panel adopted the Technical Working Group’s (TWG) Committee Resolution recommending the denial of ABS-CBN’s franchise application through 70 “yes” votes, 11 “no” votes, two “inhibitions” and one “abstention.”
According to the TWG report, ABS-CBN violated its old franchise, described by the panel as a privilege, because of the following reasons: its former Chairman Eugenio Lopez III was both a Filipino and American citizen, the issuance of Philippine Depositary Receipts supposedly favoring foreigners, inappropriate program content, meddling in politics, tax avoidance schemes; less than exemplary labor practices, among others.
The TWG also said ABS-CBN cannot invoke the freedom of the press in justifying its franchise application.
The TWG members include Deputy Speaker Pablo John Garcia, Representatives XJ Romualdo of Camiguin and Stella Quimbo of Marikina. Among them, only Quimbo dissented.
The “no” vote came more than two months after the network’s franchise lapsed on May 4.
Ahead of the voting, Buhay party-list Representative Lito Atienza said that the House members will only vote based on instructions of the Speaker Alan Cayetano./Stacy Ang
Below is a copy of the Resolution:
Republic of the Philippines
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
COMMITTEE ON LEGISLATIVE FRANCHISES
First Regular Session
COMMITTEE RESOLUTION DENYING THE FRANCHISE APPLICATION OF ABS-CBN CORPORATION TO CONSTRUCT, INSTALL, ESTABLISH, OPERATE AND MAINTAIN RADIO AND BROADCASTING STATIONS IN THE PHILIPPINES
WHEREAS, Republic Act (RA) No. 7966 granted ABS-CBN Corporation (formerly ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation) a franchise to construct, operate and maintain television and radio broadcasting stations throughout the Philippines;
WHEREAS, prior to expiration of RA No. 7966 on 05 May 2020, several House Bills and House Resolutions were filed including House Bill Nos. 676, 3521, 3713, 3947, 4305, 5608, 5705, 5753, 6052, 6138, 6293 and 6694, and House Resolution Nos. 639 and 853 relative to the grant or renewal of ABS-CBN Corporation’s franchise;
WHEREAS, the Committee on Legislative Franchises sought the position of the stakeholders, relevant government agencies and constituencies on the franchise application of ABS-CBN Corporation;
WHEREAS, the Committee on Legislative Franchises conducted its initial hearing on March 10, 2020 and the Joint Committees on Legislative Franchises and Good Government and Public Accountability conducted extensive hearings from May 26 to July 9, 2020 to discuss the various issues raised against ABS-CBN Corporation;
WHEREAS, the Committee on Legislative Franchises created a Technical Working Group (TWG) to discuss the findings and recommend a decision of the Committee on Legislative Franchises on the franchise application of ABS-CBN Corporation;
WHEREAS, the TWG, after due consideration of the testimonies, documents, submissions and arguments has come up with its findings and recommendations contained in the TWG Report;
WHEREAS, the TWG recommended to deny the franchise application of ABS-CBN Corporation and the Committee on Legislative Franchises to adopt its recommendation;
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED AS IT IS HEREBY RESOLVED, that the members of the Committee on Legislative Franchises deny the application of ABS-CBN Corporation for a franchise to construct, install, establish, operate and maintain radio and broadcasting stations in the Philippines;
RESOLVED FURTHER that, pursuant to Section 49 of the 18th Congress Rules of the House of Representatives, all of the House Bills and House Resolutions relative to the grant or renewal of the franchise application of ABS-CBN Corporation are hereby laid on the table; and the authors thereof shall be notified in writing and, as far as practicable, through electronic mail of the action within five (5) days stating the reason(s) thereof.