PHILIPPINE Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto on Wednesday, February 19, expressed his support for extending the operation of network giant ABS-CBN, saying that the allegations against it are not “fatally defective” to cancel the franchise.
“I’m in favor of extending the franchise of [ABS-CBN],” he said.
“And I think none of these complaints are fatally defective that it would warrant not to extend the franchise. Insofar as the complaints filed, right? ‘Yung (The) quo warranto (petition),” he added.
Solicitor General Jose Calida on February 10 filed a petition before the Supreme Court for the cancellation of ABS-CBN’s 25-year franchise, alleging that the TV network reportedly violated rules set by Congress.
Calida accused the network of allowing foreigners to invest in its ownership, which violates Article XVI Section 11 of the Constitution that limits ownership and management of mass media only to Filipino citizens.
His petition also alleged that the network was “abusing the privilege” given by the State when it operated a pay-per-view channel (KBO Channel) on its ABS-CBN TV Plus cable product without a permit from the National Telecommunications Commission.
“We want to put an end to what we discovered to be highly abusive practices of ABS-CBN benefitting a greedy few at the expense of millions of its loyal subscribers. These practices have gone unnoticed or were disregarded for years,” the solicitor general said in a statement.
ABS-CBN, for its part, maintained that it has complied with all the laws governing its franchise and secured all government and regulatory approvals for its operations.
President Rodrigo Duterte, as well as House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, have also accused the media network of alleged unfair election coverage in 2010 and 2016.
However, when asked about these allegations, Recto said: “I don’t know about siding with politicians. I’ll put it this way. Here in the Senate, I think all of us natamaan na rin ng (got hit by) ABS-CBN, wala naman dito palagay ko hindi natamaan din (nobody here I think was spared), but I don’t think that’s fatally defective on their franchise, or for any other media network.”
“Trabaho ninyo ‘yan eh (That’s your job). You’re the fourth estate,” he added.