Ending the long and messy House battle on the provision of ABS-CBN’s new franchise, the Committee on Legislative Franchises has announced today that they have voted to “deny the application of ABS-CBN Corporation for a franchise to construct, install, establish, operate and maintain radio and broadcasting stations in the Philippines.”
Deputy Speaker Rep. Pablo John Garcia said earlier today that the technical working group (TWG) that studied and drafted recommendations for ABS-CBN’s application determined that the “likely consensus” was to disapprove it.
Palawan Rep. Franz Alvarez stated that 43 votes were needed for a decision to win. The breakdown of the votes on the resolution to deny a new franchise to one of the country’s largest broadcasting networks is as follows: 70 for yes, 11 for no, one abstain and two voted to inhibit.
The representatives who voted against the denial are representatives Sol Aragones, Christopher De Venecia, Carlos Zarate, Gabriel Bordado Jr., Vilma Santos-Recto, Lianda Bolilia, Jose Tejada, Bienvenido Abante, Stella Quimbo, Mujiv Hataman and Edward Maceda.
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate revealed in today’s hearing that the TWG did not consult some ex-officio members of the House legislative franchise committee. He asked Rep. Garcia for a clarification on how they went through the process of getting a consensus from members when ex-officio members, such as Zarate, and the authors of the bill seeking for the franchise renewal were not consulted. “I think it behooves upon this committee to be informed how exhaustive the discussion was to come up with this 40-page report by the technical working group,” he said.
Does this mean that there’s no chance we’ll be seeing ABS-CBN?
Hopefully, no. The company can still file a motion for reconsideration or refile its franchise application. They must file the appeal during the hearing or within 24 hours.
Apart from this, a House member can also file another bill on granting ABS-CBN a new franchise to challenge the decision. However, we have witnessed just how long it can take for the Committee on Legislative Franchises to hear and make a vote on the bill.
The TWG maintains that the decision was by no means related to press freedom, but we will see in the coming days just how true this will be.