Defensor denies insinuation he voted against ABS-CBN’s franchise bid to get back at Gina Lopez

Published July 14, 2020, 12:01 PM

by Jeffrey Damicog

Anak Kalusugan party-list Representative Mike Defensor, vice chairman of the House’s committee on good government on Tuesday denied allegations he voted against granting ABS-CBN renewed legislative franchise to get back at former Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Gina Lopez, the late sister of the network’s chair emeritus Eugenio “Gabby” Lopez, for supposedly suspending operations of Pax Libera Mining where he is chief executive officer.

Anakalusugan Party-List Rep. Mike Defensor

In an interview over CNN Philippines, Defensor said, “Secretary Gina Lopez did not suspend any mining corporation in Tawi-Tawi because our mines or the mines that are being discussed are mines in the ARMM (now the Bangsamoro Autnomous Region in Muslim Mindanao).”  

Defensor added, “We have our own Department of Environment and Natural Resources in ARMM that is not covered by the authority of DENR central.”

“There was not even an investigation or of an audit of the mines there by Sec. Lopez. It was in fact DENR-ARMM which conducted an audit and which they continue to do so,” he furthered.

Defensor continues to defend the decision of the House legislative franchises committee not to grant the renewal of the network’s legislative franchise maintaining their “duty is to comply with our constitutionally mandated task of looking into a private franchise application.”

“That ABS-CBN will comply with our Constitution, will comply with our tax laws, labor laws, rules and regulations under NTC (National Telecommunications Commission) and some other laws on impartiality and those that concern mass media.”

“I think it is a disservice to any congressman or for any senator to vote for something that is wrong or they find wrong because it is popular they would still do so,” he pointed out.

With this, Defensor disagreed with proposals to transfer the power to grant franchises to media networks from Congress to the NTC. 

“I think the good thing about Congress is that when you have a 25-year franchise then you have stability and that is very critical for any business. If it is just in NTC and then anytime they can cancel it,” he reasoned, noting how a sitting President could simply order the NTC not to grant franchises.