Solon justifies House probe on alleged ABS-CBN franchise violations


Posted at May 27 2020 05:29 PM | Updated as of May 27 2020 05:48 PM

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MANILA - Cong. Eric Yap revealed Wednesday his reasons for filing a resolution, along with presidential son and fellow lawmaker Paolo Duterte and another solon, to have ABS-CBN investigated over alleged violations of its expired franchise.

Speaking to ANC's Headstart, Yap, who represents the party list Anti-Crime and Terrorism Community Involvement and Support, Inc. (ACT CIS) in the lower house, said although ABS-CBN has already refuted the allegations, the House Committee on Legislative Franchises has yet to put those on its record.

"Na-explain siya sa Senate, na-explain siya sa media. Pero ang problema, sa Committee on Franchise, wala pa siyang on record doon," Yap, who is a member of the panel, said.

"Might as well, pag na-explain doon, that will be put on record. When time comes na magbobotohan, doon kami magbe-base," he added.

The franchise committee, jointly with the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability, on Tuesday began substantial deliberations on bills seeking to grant ABS-CBN a fresh 25-year franchise.

The hearings commenced after the country's largest media network went off the air on May 5, a day after its old franchise expired and on orders by the National Telecommunications Commission.

The NTC initially committed to grant ABS-CBN a provisional authority to operate while Congress tackles the franchise bills, until it changed its position, citing the absence of a valid franchise.

Yap, Duterte and Cavite 8th District Rep. Abraham Tolentino filed House Resolution No. 853 on May 11, directing the franchise committee to investigate, in aid of legislation, probable violations of the company of its previous franchise.

Among the alleged violations mentioned in the resolution is ABS-CBN’s operation of a pay-per-view channel through its Kapamilya Box Office channel on ABS-CBN TV Plus, and the company’s issuance of Philippine Depository Receipts (PDRs) to non-Filipino citizens.

ABS-CBN has said it did not violate any laws.

Yap said he will also take up the issue of around 110 former employees of ABS-CBN who are still awaiting financial settlement from the network.

“May lumapit din sa amin, dun sa action center namin, yung ibang mga empleyado na natanggal, na may desisyon ang korte na bayaran daw sila (pero) hindi pa mabayaran... Wala silang problema sa franchise. Ang hinihingi lang nila is mabayaran lang sila... Isasama ko rin lang sa attention sa ABS pagdating sa hearing,” he said.

Another issue that he wishes to press is responsible journalism, saying that media, like ABS-CBN, is "very, very powerful" and must be just as responsible.

“I-open ko rin experience ko sa ABS-CBN. May kaibigan ako na na-allege na drug lord siya... Inilabas ng ABS-CBN News. Sabihin ko na pangalan - si Paolo Duterte, na sinabi daw na drug lord,” Yap shared.

Yap was referring to the Senate hearing on the P6.4 billion drug shipment from China in the Bureau of Customs in 2017 where broker Mark Taguba named the President’s son and son-in-law Mans Carpio as behind the “Davao Group” that allegedly facilitated the smuggling at the BOC.

“Yung tao sa hearing, yung Mark Taguba, sinabi na hindi pala niya na-meet si Paolo Duterte. Wala nang bumawi doon. Wala nang nagsabi sa news na hindi pala siya kasama dito," Yap said.

"So, ang nangyari, naiwan sa utak ng tao na drug lord pala ito... Pero ang totoo, hindi naman siya kakilala nung tao. So, naiwan sa isip ng tao."

ABS-CBN ran the story, as well as the statements of Duterte and Carpio.

Taguba’s subsequent statement clearing Duterte and Carpio in the shabu shipment and the tara system was likewise reported by ABS-CBN.

Yap said that just as media can help improve people's lives, it can also destroy even those of their families.

“Matagal ko nang kilala yung tao. Doon ko lang nakita na ang tao pala, kahit gaano kabait, basta mabasa ka lang sa news na ganito, kahit ‘di totoo, maniniwala ang ibang tao," Yap said of Duterte.

In a privilege speech at the House of Representatives Wednesday afternoon, Yap said he filed HR 853 because he wants an end to what he calls as "wrong practice" by some members of media to publish false reports and allegations, and not correct them.

The solon took the floor to react to an online report by another news outfit from his ANC interview, titled "Solon admits ‘personal reason’ in seeking probe into alleged ABS-CBN franchise violations."

Yap said lawmakers will conduct hearings twice a week on the ABS-CBN franchise bills to speed up the process, as they are aware of the impact of the company's broadcast shutdown on workers.