Palace: House lawmakers can vote on ABS-CBN’s fate based on ‘conscience’

Ging Reyes, Head Integrated News and Current Affairs of ABS-CBN Corporation, takes her oath at the 12th hearing on the franchise renewal of the broadcast network at the House of Representative on Monday, July 6. | photo by Grig Montegrande

PHILIPPINE House lawmakers can vote on ABS-CBN’s new legislative franchise based on their “conscience,” Malacañang said on Tuesday, July 7.

This comes after President Rodrigo Duterte reiterated his “neutral” stance on the issue.

“Ang Presidente naman po, ang sinabi niya (The president said) the members of Congress can vote according to their conscience dahil siya naman po ay neutral (because he said he’s neutral),” said presidential spokesperson Harry Roque.

This came after the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches urged Duterte to support the broadcast giant’s franchise renewal.

“I-address po natin ang appeal sa Kongreso kasi desisyon po iyan ng Kongreso (Address the appeal to Congress because the decision will come from Congress),” Roque said.

The spokesman also said Duterte “is neutral when it comes to ABS-CBN” after the network “apologized and he has forgiven them.”

“He is neutral, vote according to your conscience,” Roque added.

The hearing for ABS-CBN’s franchise bill, conducted by the House committees on legislative franchises, and good government and public accountability, resumed on Monday.

ABS-CBN went off-air after the broadcast of its primetime news program “TV Patrol” on May 5 after the National Telecommunications Commission issued the network a cease and desist order.

The order directed ABS-CBN to shut down its various TV and radio broadcasting stations nationwide “absent a valid Congressional Franchise as required by law.”

Republic Act No. 7966, which granted the network a 25-year franchise to operate TV and radio broadcasting stations expired on May 4, 2020.

Roque also maintained that the Palace would let Congress exercise its independence deciding ABS-CBN’s fate.

“Respetuhin na lang natin ang kapangyarihan ng mababang kapulungan dahil sa kanila dapat magsimula ang panukalang batas na magre-renew ng franchise sa ABS-CBN (Let’s respect the lower chamber in exercising its authority because the franchise bill of ABS-CBN will have to come from them),” he said.

Ritchel Mendiola

Ritchel Mendiola is a staff writer and reporter for the Asian Journal. You can reach her at [email protected].

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