On July 6, the House of Representatives held its 12th hearing regarding the franchise of ABS-CBN.
Starting at midday, the session tackled a variety of topics—ranging from Cavite seventh district representative Jesus Crispin Remulla complaining about cyberbullying against members of the House of Representatives amid the hearings to the morality of ABS-CBN being questioned due to the nature of some of their television drama contents.
A long discussion about the network’s coverage of the Dengvaxia vaccine was also raised by Deputy Minority Leader Dr. Janette Garin, who is among the officials indicted due to the deaths of eight children injected with the vaccine.
Moreover, the topic of press freedom was brought up as Remulla asked “Ano ang kinalaman ng press freedom sa prankisa na nag-expire, na wala ang ABS-CBN ngayon?”
“Totoo po na nakapag-narrowcast kami, pero hindi rin po natin maitatwa na ang ideya ng press freedom ay hindi lamang para sa aming mga journalists. Lahat po ng mamayan, ay nakikinabang po dito. Ito po ang aking paninindigan, nung naputol ang aming koneksyon, naapektuhan din po ang kalayaan sa pamamahayag dahil hindi na po kami na-access ng maraming manonood,” answered ABS-CBN Integrated News and Current Affairs Division head Ma. Regina Reyes.
“Kaya ang sinasabi niyo, kapag kayo ay nabigyan ng prankisa, walang issue ng press freedom. Kapag hindi kayo nabigyan ng prankisa, masama kami dahil nag-violate kami ng press freedom. Ayun po yung blackmail niyo sa amin,” rebutted Remulla.
LIVE: The House committees on legislative franchise and committee on good government and public accountability hold its 12th hearing on ABS-CBN franchise
Posted by INQUIRER.net on Sunday, July 5, 2020
Earlier in the hearing, Reyes said that in spite of the limitations brought by the shutdown, the network strived to deliver news as the country continues to battle the pandemic.
“The shutdown has deprived more than 69 million Filipinos of the kind of information, analysis and public service provided by ABS-CBN News,” said Reyes.
During the hearing, Cavite eighth district representative Bambol Tolentino also shared his “personal experience” of ABS-CBN’s allegedly biased reporting.
“Nais ko lang ipabatid na maaring personal o parochial ang aking manifestation, pero ito po ay magpapatunay na biased, para sa akin, ang ABS-CBN,” he said.
“In 2013, during my first term in Congress, ang masasabi ko lang po ay mahirap lumaban kung ang kalaban mo ay taga-ABS-CBN. I won’t mention names. One year before election, binabanatan ka na,” added Tolentino, who also noted that the network was biased in reporting about his brother Francis when he ran for a senatorial position in the 2016 elections.
During the hearing, the network’s CEO Carlo Katigbak said that they had been unable to air the political ads of senators like Francis Tolentino, Francis Pangilinan, Leila De Lima, Migz Zubiri and Ralph Recto in provinces for the 2016 elections.
However, the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) confirmed that “no political party and candidate have complained against ABS-CBN for being [biased], for being partial, for violation of Omnibus Election Code” when asked by Cagayan de Oro City representative Rufus Rodriguez.
It was also decided that the House Committee on Good Government will hold a separate investigation into ABS-CBN’s blocktime agreement with Amcara Broadcasting Corp., which solons claim is a usufruct deal to continue airing ABS-CBN’s contents on public frequency.
As of writing, the hearing about the network’s franchise renewal is still ongoing.
If the House legislative franchises panel vote no today or on another session this Wednesday, ABS-CBN will cease operations. If they vote yes, ABS-CBN’s franchise will be discussed on the plenary floor by the entire 302-member chamber after Congress resumes session on the morning of July 27, the same day as President Duterte’s State of the Nation Address.
Header photo courtesy of Inquirer.net
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Writer: YANN MAGCAMIT