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Cayetano stands by House vote against ABS-CBN: We only ended Lopez privilege

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House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Monday stood by the 70-11 vote that killed the franchise application of ABS-CBN, saying it was time that Congress stood up to “oligarchs” like the Lopez family, who owns and controls the broadcast network.

“As to the oligarchs, like the owners of ABS-CBN, whose historical institutional DNA is programmed to protect and grow their fortunes by controlling and abusing the system, they also deprive the country of billions in much needed funds by skirting and bending the law. Many times in connivance with the political elite,” he said.

The Taguig lawmaker said oligarchs, “unlike terrorists,” were able to “fully use our legal system to victimize the people.”

“They field dekampanilya attorneys who expertly twist the law to suit their commercial interests. Yes, their methods for avoiding taxes in the billions of pesos may appear ‘legal,’ but how can you argue that putting that much money in the pockets of one family, instead of having it benefit the millions of Filipinos who desperately need it, is in any way right or moral?” he said.

“This is especially glaring when the same privilege of using public airwaves yields a much more beneficial result for the people when used by another network. The fact that GMA paid P3.13 billion in taxes from 2017 to 2019, as compared to ABS-CBN’s P563 million for the same period, makes it crystal clear that something has gone terribly wrong with the system,” he said.

“This despite ABS-CBN being a bigger company that usually has bigger annual income than GMA,” Cayetano said.

“And this is just the tip of the iceberg that sank the network. It wasn’t the government who shut ABS-CBN down, rather it was their owners’ playing fast and loose with our laws in the past decades, that made the shutdown inevitable,” he added.

“For those who continue to push the Freedom of the Press card, Congress is not stifling the right of any journalist, host, commentator, talent, or employee of ABS-CBN – or any Filipino for that matter – from criticizing the government,” he said.

“We simply put an end to the privilege of one family in using a public resource to protect and promote their private interests,” Cayetano said.

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