VP Leni backing approval of new ABS-CBN franchise

Vice President Leni Robredo on Sunday voiced her support of the bid to renew ABS-CBN’s franchise, saying that far-flung areas rely on the network for vital information.

Vice-President Leni Robredo

Speaking on her weekly radio show, Robredo noted the impact of the closure of ABS-CBN on the Filipino people.

“In many of these places, only ABS-CBN has a presence. They rely on ABS-CBN for information. I am supportive of the filing to renew the franchise of ABS-CBN,” she said.

Senate President Tito Sotto and Batangas 6th District Rep. Vilma Santos-Recto filed a resolution seeking to renew the franchise of the embattled network.

Sotto had said that since the closure of the network in mid-2020, he noticed how other television networks give way to airing animes instead of their news programs. He said this was because there is now a lack of competition in the airwaves.

Santos-Recto seconded the filing of the resolution. Both legislators are former actors and have worked with ABS-CBN and their subsidiaries in the past.

Robredo maintained that the Lopez Group-owned network should still be penalized if it’s proven that they violated provisions of the franchise. But if not, she hoped the network will be allowed to renew its franchise.

“This is not a punishment to ABS-CBN alone. This is a punishment to everyone who depends on ABS-CBN, especially the rank-and-file employees who had to lose their jobs. Those who are already (financially) settled, if the anger is toward the owners of ABS-CBN for example, they are not affected by this,” she said. 

Still, Robredo hoped that there is no personal vendetta in hearing the case for the network’s franchise renewal.

The hearing for the franchise renewal should be based on facts without biases against the owners.

“I hope that the process will be very fair,” she said.

ABS-CBN was forced to go off-air in May 2020 because of an order from the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC). In July, lawmakers denied its bid to renew its franchise after grueling hearings over alleged violations.