MANILA – Accusations hurled by House Deputy Speaker Rodante Marcoleta against ABS-CBN during Tuesday's hearing on the network’s new franchise bid are nothing but rehash, one of his fellow lawmakers said Wednesday.
Speaking to Teleradyo, Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza said the network had been cleared by various government agencies in the past.
“Para sa akin, these are academic questions which have already been answered. These are issues aired over and over again in a different fora,” Atienza said.
Marcoleta, who represents Sagip party-list, accused the network of tax avoidance, unfair labor practices and violating the constitutional restriction on foreign ownership in mass media.
ABS-CBN said it did not violate any laws.
The joint hearing by the House committees on legislative franchises, and good government and public accountability on Tuesday marked the start of substantial deliberations on long pending bills seeking to grant ABS-CBN a fresh-25 year franchise.
The media giant was forced off the air on May 5, a day after its previous franchise expired and on orders by the National Telecommunications Commission.
Asked when ABS-CBN could go back on air, Atienza said, “Again, I will go back to what I said before and I say it again, si Speaker Cayetano ang may hawak ng kapangyarihan sa Kongreso (Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano holds the power in Congress).”
“If he decides to give it, the franchise for 25 years, good. I will praise him for that. I will congratulate him for his statesmanship na pinanaig niya kung ano man ang makakabuti sa bansa at hindi yung kagustuhan lang ng isa o 2 tao (for letting what’s good for the country prevail and not what only one or two people want/s),” he added.
The May 5 broadcast shutdown is the second for ABS-CBN, which was bumped off the air when former President Ferdinand Marcos imposed martial law in 1972. The company has asked the Supreme Court to issue a temporary restraining order against the NTC order.
In the absence of its vital revenue stream, the company mulls layoffs from among its workers, saying it loses P30-35 million in advertising revenues daily.
ABS-CBN's application for a new broadcast franchise has been filed in Congress since 2014.
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