Malacañang does not believe that the denial of ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal by a House of Representatives panel has a chilling effect on journalism because its main business was supposed to be entertainment and not news.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque made the statement after the House of Representatives Committee on Legislative Franchises denied ABS-CBN its bid for a new franchise.
In an interview with Super Radyo DZBB, Roque said people were watching ABS-CBN more for its entertainment shows and not for its news programs.
“Hindi po ako naniniwala sa chilling effect, dahil unang-una, ang negosyo naman po talaga ng ABS-CBN ay hindi naman full time balita, kung hindi ito po ay entertainment. (I don’t believe in chilling effect because ABS-CBN’s business is primarily entertainment, it’s not full-time news),” he said Friday evening.
“Iyan po talaga iyong kanilang top-grossers. At ang kanilang ‘TV Patrol’ bagama’t maraming nanonood, hindi naman po iyan iyong talagang hanapbuhay lang nila (Their entertainment programs are their top-grossers and even though many people are watching ‘TV Patrol’, that’s not their bread and butter),” he added.
Supporters of ABS-CBN took to social media their disappointment on the vote of 70 lawmakers to deny the network a franchise.
In his radio interview, Roque advised the public to vote wisely in the next elections if they feel that their representatives failed them.
“Nagdesisyon na po ang representante ng taumbayan, respetuhin po natin iyan. (Our representatives made a decision and we should respect that),” he said.
“Kung tayo po ay hindi sang-ayon, sa susunod na halalan po humanap tayo ng mga bagong mambabatas na boboto sang-ayon sa kagustuhan ng taumbayan .(If we disagree with that decision, let’s look for a new lawmaker that will better represent us in the next election),” he added.
“Pero sa ngayon po, iyan po ang desisyon ng representante ng taumbayan, iyan po ay desisyon ng taumbayan, hayaan na po muna natin at hintayin natin ang husga ng taumbayan doon sa mga representante kung mayroon man. (For now, that is the decision of our representatives. Let’s leave it for now and let’s wait how the people will judge them),” he continued.
End of the road
Meanwhile, Roque, a former lawmaker, said ABS-CBN cannot appeal the decision of the House Committee because the panel is not a court.
“Walang apela, eh, kasi hindi naman po hukuman ang isang congressional committee. (There’s no appeal because a congressional committee is not a court),” he said.
“Kung anong naging desisyon ng komite, iyon na po ang desisyon kasi kapag pinatay sa committee level, hindi na po makakarating ng plenaryo. (Whatever the decision of the committee is final. When a bill is killed at the committee level, it won’t reach the plenary),” he added.
He said it was the end of the road for ABS-CBN in the 18th Congress.
“Sabihin na lang po natin na siguro para dito sa Kongresong ito dahil nagkaroon na ng desisyon sa application nila ng prangkisa eh mahihirapan na po iyang buksan muli habang tayo po ay nasa 18th Congress. (Let’s say that for the 18th Congress, they’ll find it hard to apply for a new franchise),” Roque said.
Roque, however, assured the public that President Duterte had no hand in the decision of the House of Representatives to hand ABS-CBN’s death sentence.
“Mula noong humingi ng patawad ang ABS-CBN ay naging neutral. Wala po siyang tinawagan, wala po siyang sinabihan to vote either way. (Ever since ABS-CBN apologized, he maintained a neutral stand. He didn’t call anybody nor told anyone to vote either way),” he said.
“So, iyan po ay boto sang-ayon sa konsensiya ng mga miyembro ng (So that is the conscience vote of members of the) House Committee on Franchise,” he added.
Roque likewise asked the workers affected by the rejection of ABS-CBN’s franchise application to understand that the situation was out of President Duterte’s hands.
“Ako po ay nalulungkot talaga na mawawalan sila ng hanapbuhay ngayong panahon ng pandemya pero sana po naintindihan nila, wala pong kinalaman dito ang ating Presidente. (I feel bad that they will be losing their jobs during the pandemic but I hope they understand that the President had nothing to do with this),” he said.
“Malinaw na malinaw po, kasing linaw ng sikat ng araw sa umaga na ang puwede lang magdesisyon nito sa una-unang pagkakataon ay ang Mababang Kapulungan po. (It’s bright as day that only the Lower House can decide on this),” he added.