CAYETANO: Respect House panel's decision to deny ABS-CBN franchise

House of Representatives Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Friday urged the public to respect the decision of the House Committee on Legislative Franchises to deny the bid of media giant ABS-CBN for a new 25-year franchise.

Cayetano also asked the public to read the findings carefully to appreciate the reasons for their decision.

“As the Committee members have voted to deny the franchise application, the House Leadership asks that the people, read the findings carefully in order to appreciate the reasons for their decision. And for those who do not agree, at the least, understand why the decision had to be so,” he said. “This has by no means been an easy process for anyone involved in these proceedings and I can assure our kababayans (compatriots) that the final resolution was not arrived at by the Committee without serious consideration as to the overall impact it will have on the nation.”

Cayetano said the House committed and delivered a time for the panel to conduct fair, impartial, thorough, and comprehensive hearings on the franchise application of ABS-CBN Corp.

“Because of the highly partisan nature of this issue, we accepted from the start that there would be those who will vehemently disagree with the committee’s decision, no matter what they resolve,” he said. “I pray that despite our differences, we will eventually come to respect the decision of the committee and its members, and begin to move forward in rebuilding the relationships that have been strained by this issue.”

By a 70-11 vote, with one abstention, the panel, chaired by Palawan Rep. Franz Alvarez, approved the resolution denying the franchise application of ABS-CBN Corp. to construct, install, establish, operate, and maintain radio and broadcasting stations in the Philippines.

Two other lawmakers inhibited from voting.

The previous House hearings have exhaustively discussed the network’s franchise issues, including the citizenship of ABS-CBN chair emeritus Gabby Lopez; the possible violation of the constitutional limits on foreign ownership; reported labor, and tax violations; and other violations of the terms of its legislative franchise.

The technical working group noted in its report on the findings and recommendations that the network’s franchise application is not a press freedom issue, but rather a denial of the privilege granted by the state because ABS-CBN was seen as “undeserving of the grant of a legislative franchise.”

Meanwhile, ABS-CBN president and chief executive officer Carlo Katigbak said they were “deeply hurt” by the panel’s decision to deny their franchise bid.

“We are deeply hurt that the Committee on Legislative Franchises has denied the franchise application of ABS-CBN. We believe that we have been rendering service that is meaningful and valuable to the Filipino public,” Katigbak said. “Nevertheless, we would like to thank the Committee for allowing us a chance to air our side on all the issues raised against us.”

He said the network remains committed to public service, as he expressed hope to find other ways to “achieve our mission.”

“Together with our employees and our audiences all over the world, we share in your sadness over this setback. We look forward to the day when we can again reunite under our broadcast. Mga Kapamilya, thank you for keeping the faith with us,” Katigbak said.

ABS-CBN, in compliance with the National Telecommunications Commission’s (NTC) shutdown order, ceased its broadcast operations on May 5, a day after the expiration of the network’s legislative franchise.

On June 30, the NTC issued another cease and desist order, directing ABS-CBN to stop operating its digital television transmission using Amcara Broadcasting Corp.’s Channel 43.

The NTC also issued another cease and desist order on June 30 to halt the direct-to-home satellite transmission of ABS-CBN’s cable firm, Sky Cable Corp.

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