Robredo to lawmakers who denied ABS-CBN franchise: You should have represented your constituents’ voices

By CNN Philippines Staff

Instead of letting personal issues prevail, lawmakers in Congress should have well reminded themselves of their roles as representatives during the voting on the ABS-CBN franchise, Vice President Leni Robredo said on Sunday.

“Kaya nga representatives ang tawag, ikaw dapat ang nagrerepresent ng mga constituents mo….pero ito talagang nakakadurog ng puso,” Robredo said in her weekly radio show.

[Translation: This is why you’re called representatives, you’re supposed to represent your constituents…but this incident is really heartbreaking.]

Robredo added that she herself has experienced unfair reporting from the broadcast giant in the past, but this does not justify the decision to deny them of a fresh franchise to serve the people amid the pandemic.

“Na-mention sa hearing na kahit ako maraming ads na hindi na-air. Maraming pagkakataon na, lalo kaming naninilbihan sa taongbayan, nararamdaman namin na hindi fair. Maraming mga taga-ABS-CBN ang hindi naging fair sa akin,” she said.

[Translation: It was even mentioned in the hearing that I also had political ads which weren’t aired on the network. There were many instances, that even we, public servants, felt that it wasn’t fair. Some people from ABS-CBN were not fair to me.]

She added: “Pero hindi ito panahon para magsingil ng personal na hinanakit. May mas malaking dahilan, may mas malaking interest tayong pinaglalaban, interes ng lahat ng taong umasang magtrabaho sa ABS.”

[Translation: But this is not the time for them to take advantage of personal grievances. There are bigger reasons here, bigger interests that we should be fighting for, interest of the people who work for ABS.]

In an overwhelming 70-11 vote on Friday, the House Committee on Legislative Franchises adopted the report of its technical working group not to grant ABS-CBN a new franchise, claiming that the media giant does not deserve to resume broadcast operations due to numerous violations on ownership, labor practices, and tax obligations, among others.

The panel, dominated by allies of President Rodrigo Duterte, had maintained that the decision was “in no way related to the freedom of the press,” but rather “a denial of a privilege granted by the State because the applicant was seen as undeserving of the grant of a legislative franchise.”

Despite Duterte publicly threatening the network of a shutdown the past years for refusing to carry his 2016 campaign ads, Malacañang insisted that it had no hand in the decision of the committee.

Deputy Speaker Rodante Marcoleta, one of the lawmakers who staunchly criticized ABS-CBN over the past congressional hearings, recently noted that the frequency previously assigned to the Lopez-led network might not even be available by 2022 if the government decides to give the franchise to another media company.

Cayetano, who was Duterte’s vice presidential running mate in 2016, insisted that the hearings on ABS-CBN were “fair, impartial, thorough, and comprehensive.”

Anakalusugan Partylist Rep. Mike Defensor previously said they spent over a hundred hours in the franchise deliberations overall. However, some congressmen used the time to accuse the network of “cyberbullying” and “unfair reporting” of the network against them.

Social Weather Stations recently released results of a national survey which showed that 75 percent of Filipinos want to renew ABS-CBN’s franchise, while another 56 percent said the non-renewal of the franchise was a “major blow to press freedom.”

Over 11,000 regular and non-regular employees will be rendered jobless following the denial of the franchise.

The network said they will continue to deliver news through the limited platforms available to them.

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