‘Move on, fight is over’ for ABS-CBN franchise — Roque

Published July 13, 2020, 3:36 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

The government has appealed to the public to respect the House committee’s rejection of the franchise application of ABS-CBN network and “move on,” saying the fight is over.

Presidential Spokesperson Atty. Harry Roque (Jansen Romero / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

According to Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque, the franchise application of the network went through the process in the House committee on legislative franchise but eventually failed to get the required support.

“Maski tayo manghinayang tapos na po ang boksing (The boxing is over). Dumaan sa proseso sang-ayon sa saligang-batas. Wala tayong magagawa (It went through the process based on the Constitution. We can’t do anything about it). Let’s move on,” he said during a Palace press briefing Monday, when asked if the government is disappointed the network could have helped the education department on its blended learning method this school year.

“Sang-ayon o tutol man tayo rito, dumaan sa proseso at ‘yan ang naging desisyon ng komite. Kinakailangan po respetuhin ng lahat (Whether we agree or oppose it, it went through the process and that’s the decision of the committee. Everyone must respect it),” he added.

The House committee on legislative franchises has junked the franchise application of Lopez-owned ABS-CBN network after holding several hearings, saying it was undeserving of such franchise. The latest decision was viewed as “unfair” and “cruel” by many groups including lawmakers, journalists and rights advocates.

With the lack of franchise, the media giant is unable to return on air its free television and radio stations. These stations have been off air since May 5 in compliance with the cease-and-desist order issued by the National Telecommunications Commission over a lapsed franchise.

Roque has tried to distance President Duterte from the congressional decision. He claimed that Duterte has kept a neutral stance on the franchise issue and respects the separation of powers between the two co-equal branches of government. The President previously harbored ill feelings towards the network but has already accepted its apology, he added.

Roque admitted though that the denial of the ABS-CBN franchise is a huge loss for the government, particularly his office, in terms of information dissemination. He recognized that the media network has the widest reach but now the government has lost a partner in spreading information to the public. 

“Pero ganyan talaga. Tatanggapin natin ang desisyon ng franchise committee dahli yan naman ang nakasaad sa saligang batas (But that’s the way it is. We will accept the decision of the franchise committee because that is stated in the Constitution),” he said.

On a personal note, Roque said he was saddened by the latest predicament of the network, claiming he is also a “Kapamilya.” He said he owes a huge debt of gratitude to the network since he became popular due to his television appearances.

“Masakit din po sa akin ang nangyari sa ABS-CBN (I am also hurt by what happened to ABS-CBN),” he said.

“Nalulungkot ako na dumating sa punto na hindi na-renew ang prangkisa pero sa tingnin ko naman nagkaroon ng sapat na panahon para paghandaan itong takdang panahon na napaso na ang prangkisa (I am sad that it reached the point the franchise was not renewed but I think there was sufficient time to prepare for the expiry of the franchise),” he said.

To ABS-CBN workers who will lose their jobs, Roque said the government will extend assistance to workers displaced amid the pandemic.