Cayetano reveals true stand on ABS-CBN franchise

Published July 13, 2020, 4:49 PM

by Ben Rosario

Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Monday took exceptions to accusations hurled by critics over the rejection of the ABS-CBN legislative franchise as he declared that Congress has never wavered in upholding press freedom.

Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano

Cayetano stressed that the House of Representatives respects the right of members of the media and every Filipino to criticize the government

“For those who continue to push the freedom of the press card, Congress is not stifling the right of any journalist, host, commentator, talent, or employee of ABS-CBN—or any Filipino for that matter—from criticizing the government. We simply put an end to the privilege of one family in using a public resource to protect and promote their private interests,” said Cayetano.

The House leader issued the statement as various sectors, the civil society and non-government organizations strongly protested the decision of the House Committee on Legislative Franchises to reject the bid of ABS-CBN for a fresh 25-year franchise.

Various media organizations, including members of the working press assigned in the Malacanang and Senate beats, have issued strongly worded statements condemning what they decried as a serious attack to the  freedom of the press and right to information guaranteed by the Constitution.

The House panel rejected by a vote of 70 for and 11 against the recommendation of the three-man technical working group to junk the 11 bills proposing to grant the Lopez-owned broadcast network a new franchise.

Cayetano said he acknowledges that diverse ideas and opinions are necessary in the pursuit for real change towards a better world. He also underscored that need for Filipinos to work together amidst the growing threats of COVID-19 pandemic.

The Speaker, who represents  Taguig and Pateros, said he believes that Filipinos are living in a community where we are interconnected and dependent on each other.

“The pain of one is the pain of all. And so if we are to address the cancers of society, then we have no choice but to face the problems head on and to pull it out by its roots,”  Cayetano noted.

Deputy Speakers Rodante Marcoleta and Dan Fernandez lamented that despite the open and fair manner by which the ABS-CBN hearings were conducted, there remained groups that assailed the committee decision.

Marcoleta and Fernandez said Cayetano had vowed the conduct of fair hearings on the franchise issue and that was what the Lower House delivered.
Cayetano that he stood by the decision of the committee.

“While my belief in the right of the people—including those who work in the media—to freely express their opinions in whatever platform and manner remains strong, so is my conviction that private interests should be kept at the same arms-length distance as government from controlling the media,” he explained.

He also maintained his position that the denial of the franchise renewal is not an issue of press freedom, but part of the government’s effort to reclaim the country’s patrimony from the oligarchs.

“Ultimately, people will come to understand that this was never an issue about press freedom. That despite the best efforts of the owners to use it as a shield for their abusive corporate practices, Filipinos will see that this is—first and foremost—simply a part of this season’s uprooting of the weeds and reclaiming our patrimony from the oligarchs,” the House official stressed.