Senators call out Cayetano for ‘hand-washing’ over ABS-CBN issue

Published May 9, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Vanne Terrazola

Senators on Friday (May 8) took a swipe at House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano for blaming the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) and Solicitor General Jose Calida for the shutdown of ABS-CBN.

Senate of the Philippines building (Senate of the Philippines official Facebook)
Senate of the Philippines building (Senate of the Philippines official Facebook)

Breaking his silence on the issue, Cayetano on Friday hit the NTC for yielding to “pressure” when it issued the cease-and-desist order against the broadcast giant last Tuesday (May 5).

The House leader also chided Calida for his “unconstitutional meddling” with Congress’ authority over legislative franchises, when Calida threatened the NTC with graft charges should they grant ABS-CBN a provisional authority to operate sans a valid franchise from Congress.

“Yung frequent hand-washing, dapat ginagamit panlaban sa COVID-19, hindi para umiwas sa political accountability,” Sen. Risa Hontiveros posted on social media on May 8. (Frequent hand-washing should be done to fight COVID-19, not to escape from political accountability.)

Sen. Nancy Binay, meanwhile, posted a cryptic tweet which netizens understood as an allusion to Cayetano.

“Reminds you of who?” she asked netizens, attaching a cartoon of biblical character Pontius Pilate who was known for washing his hands of the execution of Jesus Christ.

Both Binay and Hontiveros have supported ABS-CBN’s continued operations.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III said earlier that “most, if not all of the members of the Senate, are all in favor” of extending ABS-CBN’S franchise.

Some congressmen had also blamed Cayetano for ABS-CBN’s shutdown. Cayetano earlier decided to hold off discussions on ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal, saying it was “not urgent” then, and giving assurances that the network would still be allowed to operate after its franchise expired on May 4.

On Friday, he vowed the House would do its job about ABS-CBN’s franchise application, although he did not specify when. He maintained that the House proceedings on the matter should be “fair, impartial, thorough, and comprehensive.”

Cayetano was a running mate of President Duterte in the 2016 elections, when ABS-CBN failed to air some of the latter’s paid campaign ads.