Jun 29, 2020

On June 29, AnaKalusugan partylist Representative Mike Defensor received criticism for his proposed solution as to how ABS-CBN can return on air while Congress still deliberates on the network’s franchise approval.

According to the congressman, the network can have a compromise deal by airing only their entertainment shows, including game shows, variety and telenovelas to return on air. However, its news and public affairs programs should remain removed from broadcast for the meantime.

“Personal ko ’to, I cannot speak for everyone: Kung tanggalin muna news and current affairs just because baka ma-influence ang committee,” said Defensor in the program “Wag Po” of One PH.

[READ: Is the ABS-CBN shutdown unconstitutional?]

He noted that this compromise is to prevent the network’s employees from losing their jobs, especially if it does not go back on air by August. According to ABS-CBN’s head Carlo Katigbak, they have been losing P35 million every day in revenues and operating costs since they shut down on May 4. 

“Not because we want to curtail press freedom. Pabayaan muna shows na non-political. Katulad ngayon, nagrereklamo isang kasama ko—o, naka-air na naman sila; tinira tayo,” added the congressman, who is also the chairman of the House committee on public trust.

During the House hearing on the ABS-CBN franchise renewal on June 29, Defensor also questioned why the network’s programs continue to air on Digibox despite their expired franchise. 

[READ: OPINION: The ABS-CBN shutdown is a call for citizen journalism]

To this, Cavite Rep. Jesus Crispin Remulla revealed that a “ripe Ombudsman case” is actually in place against National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) chief Gamaliel Cordoba for allowing the network to do so.

“Wala silang karapatang mag-broadcast, period,” said Remulla, emphasizing that ABS-CBN’s operations on Digibox for the past eight weeks have been illegal.

In response to Defensor’s suggestion, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) said, “Thank you, party-list Rep. Mike Defensor for confirming what practically everyone knows but which this government and its minions have vainly tried to deny, that the shutdown of ABS-CBN and the circus that has become of the House hearings into the network’s franchise are, indeed, a press freedom issue.”

“Not to mention this would practically negate the network’s chances of returning on air as it would violate the Broadcast Code of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas, Article 1, Sec. 2 of which states: ‘News shall be part of a station’s daily programming. No less than 30 minutes of daily programming should be devoted to news,’” NUJP pointed out.

Defensor also trended on Twitter with criticisms for his suggestions and statements.


Header photo from Inquirer.net

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