Cayetano denies pressure from Duterte on ABS-CBN franchise renewal

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    Cayetano denies pressure from Duterte on ABS-CBN franchise renewal

    MANILA, Philippines — Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Friday said he does not feel pressured by President Rodrigo Duterte, as well as by other media outfits, in expeditiously acting on the pending bills relating to the renewal of franchise of ABS-CBN.

    Speaking to reporters, Cayetano said that the House’s discussions on the franchise renewal of ABS-CBN should not be treated as a race, as he gave assurance the issue would be tackled with fairness.

    “Let me assure you, guys, na hindi init ng ulo, hindi rhetoric ang gagamitin namin dito. So, sabi nung iba, may pressure. Isa lang ang pressure ko: gawin ang tama (So, let me assure you, guys, we will not be using being hothead, or rhetoric here. So, others are saying that there is pressure. There’s only one pressure I know: to do what is right),” he said.

    “Hindi ako nape-pressure sa gusto ng pangulo. Hindi ako nape-pressure sa media at sa mga supporters ng ABS-CBN. Nape-pressure ako that history will judge us (I am not pressured by what the president wants. nor by media and supporters of ABS-CBN. The pressure is on how history will judge us,” he added.

    On several occasions, Duterte repeatedly said that he would block the franchise renewal of the network due to supposed “violations” committed by the media company.

    At one point, Duterte even urged the Lopez family, the owner of the company, to just sell it off.

    Isabela Rep. Antonio “Tonypet” Albano, who serves as the vice-chairperson of the House committee on legislative franchises, however, claimed Duterte never ‘directly’ put pressure or interfered with the lower chamber with regards the franchise issue.

    “The President has never interfered and does not intend to interfere in the business of congress. He values the separation of powers and has much respect for us to do so,” Albano said.

    Republic Act No. 3846 requires television and radio broadcasting companies to secure a franchise from the government before they are allowed to operate. It is Congress that will decide whether to extend the franchise to public utilities, such as the media.

    So far, at least 11 bills have been filed in the House seeking to renew the franchise of ABS-CBN, which is one of the biggest media outlets in the country. Its franchise is set to expire on March 30.

    But despite the number of bills filed in support of the renewal of the media giant’s franchise, the House committee on legislative franchises has yet to tackle the issue.

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