MANILA - Lawmakers' personal experiences should not be a factor in deciding whether ABS-CBN Corp should be granted a fresh 25-year franchise, Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman said Thursday as the House committees braced for a summation of the 12 hearings it undertook on the network's license issues.
House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano has called for a "conscience vote" even as several congressmen on Monday raised personal issues against ABS-CBN’s supposedly biased news coverage.
"The personal experience of members shouldn’t be a factor because as long as they have not instituted any complaint of indictment against the network, they should practice (this) because as politicians we are subject to severe criticism and we should be able to accept this fact," Lagman told ANC.
Lagman welcomed Cayetano's call for a conscience vote and said if the House renews ABS-CBN's franchise, it would be a "a belated feather in the cap of the Speaker."
"If the bid of ABS-CBN for a renewed franchise is rejected, then we’d expect a strong backlash against the House and it would be the Speaker who would take responsibility and the doctrine of command of responsibility," he added.
President Rodrigo Duterte, who has since accepted the network's apology for the non-airing of his political ads during the 2016 elections, may also be a factor in the lawmakers' vote, Lagman said.
"Technically that would be water under the bridge. But we do not know how his initial rejection would influence the vote of the members of the supermajority. The President has a stance of neutrality also and that is the overt statement, we’re not sure of any covert otherwise," Lagman said.
The opposition lawmaker earlier said ABS-CBN "rightly" deserves a new broadcast franchise, saying it passed all issues were resolved in favor of the network.
"That is why I said in my scorecard it’s 8-0 sweep for ABS-CBN to have its franchise renewed," he said.
The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) shut down ABS-CBN last May 5, a day after its previous 25-year franchise expired, despite renewal applications that had been pending in the House since 2014.
news.abs-cbn.com is the official news website of ABS-CBN Corp.