Solon's proposal for ABS-CBN to air only non-political shows 'unconstitutional': analyst

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 30 2020 10:33 AM | Updated as of Jun 30 2020 11:07 AM

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MANILA - A lawmaker's proposal to allow ABS-CBN Corp to resume operations without news and public affairs programs is "unconstitutional," a media analyst and journalist said Tuesday.

Anakalusugan Partylist Rep. Mike Defensor was earlier quoted as saying that ABS-CBN should broadcast non-political shows so as not to influence House committees.

But Defensor's remarks are a "non-constitutional possibility," said Vergel Santos, member of the board of trustees of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility.

"All they’re doing now is unconstitutional. They are abridging press freedom and they want to do it even more," he told ANC.

"I think there is a lack of understanding of the relationship between the press and people in power, especially Congress. They don’t seem to understand that we are here to watch them. That’s the constitutional duty of the press. Those congressmen would like us to stop doing our Constitutional duty."

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) earlier said Defensor's statement has only proven that the franchise issue of ABS-CBN was related to press freedom.

Santos added that the House hearings into ABS-CBN's fresh franchise bid were "deteriorating into the theater of the absurd."

"When you have no case this is what happens to you, you get confused yourselves. You get lost in the whole thing. And this is what happened to congressmen. They don’t know what they're doing. They don’t know what to do with ABS-CBN because they couldn’t find anything to stop ABS-CBN," he said.

Lawmakers are now going after the National Telecommunications Commission for not making "life difficult enough" for ABS-CBN, Santos said.

The NTC on Monday said it would heed the advice of the Solicitor General to shut down the Kapamilya Channel, which is airing some of ABS-CBN Corp's shows through cable and satellite television.

"They would have perfectly righteous reasons to go after NTC when NTC went back on its word to Congress that it would not stop ABS-CBN but it didn't. And what did NTC get for it? Nothing more than a slap on the wrist," he said.

"Now they are going after NTC hammer strong and for what because NTC apparently failed them. They would have wanted to see ABS-CBN to close for good and therefore would not have to deal with this franchise application. But this is not happening at all. And they are being revealed for their own arbitrariness and whimsicalness."

Lawmakers are set to resume their inquiry into ABS-CBN's franchise bid later Tuesday.

Regulators forced the 65-year-old media network off air on May 5, a day after its franchise expired. This is despite an earlier assurance by the National Telecommunications Office that it would let ABS-CBN operate provisionally while lawmakers had yet to finish tackling its franchise.

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