‘Lacson has the last word on this item: Critics who are trying to tie up the Anti-Terrorism Law with the ABS-CBN franchise denial are just muddling the issues.’
WITH A vote of 70-11, the House of Representatives Committee on Legislative Franchises laid on the table last Friday the bid for a new franchise to operate free TV broadcasts of the media giant ABS-CBN.
When a representative asked the House presiding officer what “laid on the table” exactly means, he was told that in the vocabulary of the House, the bills applying for a 25-year franchise of ABS-CBN have been “killed,” trashed, and put in the bin.
As the nation is wracked by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this issue about the ABS-CBN franchise is being bloated out of proportion by some sectors who definitely have interests to protect or advance in this very divisive debate.
Since ABS-CBN is a media entity, it is understandable that proponents of the radio-TV network’s renewal would use the issue of press freedom and freedom of expression as underlying thread in their protests. But to use the matter of Anti-Terrorism Act as a link to the ABS-CBN controversy is, to our mind, quite a stretch.
The behemoth firm may be down today, but it is not totally dead for it still have other media-related businesses and holds some P85 billion in assets, according to its disclosure to the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Philippine Stock Exchange. As Sen. Panfilo Lacson said, “Maybe, kung bumagsak sila today, pero iba usapan kinabukasan o sa susunod na araw o taon. I’m sure babangon uli at babangon. (They may have fallen today but tomorrow is another day and I’m sure they would eventually rise up.)
Lacson believes that the charge that it was an assault on press freedom is just one opinion, but what is material is that the House of Representatives which has exclusive jurisdiction on the grant of private franchises did its mandate under the Constitution. The senator reminded the public that the Senate could not act on the matter not until the House has transmitted its approved version on the legislative franchise and thus could not undertake hearings.
The correct thing to do under the circumstances is to respect the decision of the House, as no amount of bribes, protests, people’s initiative, more protests and noise barrage, etc. could change what has happened: that the duly-elected representatives of the people found ABS-CBN as wanting of the qualifications of holding the coveted congressional franchise to broadcast using the state-owned frequency. Whatever the reason of Congress for the denial, and whether we agree with such reason/s or not, the fact is that they did their job according to the Constitution and at the end of the day, it must be respected by the citizens.
Lacson has the last word on this item: Critics who are trying to tie up the Anti-Terrorism Law with the ABS-CBN franchise denial are just muddling the issues. “They should not adopt disinformation tactics just so to get their support. That is my plea. Don’t be afraid. Our enemies are the terrorists, not the protesters.