House panel chairmen in ABS-CBN franchise rejection face relief under Velasco leadership

Published September 22, 2020, 11:16 AM

by Ben Rosario

The two chairmen of  legislative committees responsible for the closure of the ABS-CBN broadcast network are among the incumbent officials of the House of Representatives who will be relieved from their post under the incoming leadership of Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco.


Sources from both the camps of incumbent Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Velasco have confirmed that Reps. Franz Alvarez (NUP, Palawan) and Jose Antonio Sy Alvarado (NP, Bulacan) will be replaced as chairman of the House Committee on Legislative Franchises and on Good Government and Public Accountability, respectively.

The Velasco camp is reportedly eyeing a revamp of the committee chairmanship assignments to make the process “equitable and fair” to all political parties belonging to the Duterte-backed majority bloc.

Quezon City Rep. Alfred Vargas will replace Alvarez who chaired the legislative franchise panel in the past five years. 

Sy-Alvarado, a second term lawmaker, will be relieved despite having headed the powerful good government panel in just over a year. 

Quezon City Rep. Alfred Vargas, an actor who started his career as a member of the ABS-CBN Star Magic, is the reported replacement for Sy-Alvarado.

When contacted, Vargas said the information is false, stressing that this caught him by surprise.

However, Manila Bulletin received confirmation from one of the two information sources.  The other has yet to respond.

“First time I have heard of this.  You’re the first and only one who has mentioned this to me,” Vargas told this reporter in a text message.

He added: “No one has texted/contacted me at all.  Chairman Chicoy (Alvarez) is doing a good job and I support him.”

A member of the Legislative Franchise Committee, Vargas did not participate in voting on the bills seeking to grant ABS-CBN a franchise. 

“I inhibited myself from voting because of an existing contract my production company has with Star Magic,” the QC lawmaker explained.

On July 10, the legislative franchises panel voted 70 for, and 11 against, to junk 11 legislative measures proposing the grant of a fresh 25-year legislative franchise for ABS-CBN.

Alvarez, who presided over the voting, said the committee reached the decision after conducting 12 days of  hearings that tackled issues that hounded the network’s bid to resume operations.

The hearings were jointly conducted by the House Committee on Good Government  which conducted an inquiry into numerous allegations of franchise violations allegedly committed by the network.

Adversely affected by the House decision and ultimately the permanent closure of the network were around 11,000 families who  directly or indirectly relied on ABS-CBN for their livelihood.