‘Di aabot sa sampung boto! Iglesia Ni Cristo, Pulong Duterte team up to kill ABS-CBN’s franchise bid
With committee deliberations on ABS-CBN’s franchise over, presidential son Davao City Rep. Paolo “Pulong” Duterte and Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) are reportedly stepping up pressure on lawmakers to shut the media giant down for good.
Politiko learned that Pulong and INC are supposedly lobbying separately with members of the House Legislative Franchises Committee to deny ABS-CBN’s franchise application. They’re also said to be pressuring House leaders to vote against the network.
A top-level source told Politiko that lawmakers are reportedly being threatened with zero projects if they vote to grant ABS-CBN’s franchise application. They’re also allegedly warned that they will face challengers in the 2022 elections if they don’t do the bidding of Pulong and INC.
On top of political threats, Politiko’s source claimed some lawmakers have also been threatened with physical harm– short of harassment– should they side with ABS-CBN.
With the intensity of lobbying against ABS-CBN, Politiko’s source said the Lopez-owned network will be lucky to get 10 votes in its favor.
“The plan is to ‘kill’ ABS-CBN’s franchise bid at the committee level so it doesn’t reach the plenary anymore,” the source said.
Votes for ABS-CBN’s franchise application will come from the 46-member House Legislative Franchises Committee and the 45 ex-officio members who have a voice and vote in the panel.
The ex-officio members include the top House leaders such as Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, Majority Leader Martin Romualdez and Minority Leader Benny Abante. Deputy Speakers, Deputy Majority Leaders and Deputy Minority Leaders can also cast votes.
Politiko’s source said ex-officio members have been told they cannot abstain from voting on ABS-CBN’s franchise application.
“If they don’t want to vote, they must deputize a lawmaker to vote on their behalf against ABS-CBN,” the source said.
Pulong’s father, President Rodrigo Duterte, has repeatedly threatened to shut ABS-CBN down.
Politiko, meanwhile, reported that INC wants ABS-CBN’s frequencies: five AM stations, including DZMM, 18 FM stations and 42 TV stations, including Channels 2 and 23.
The influential religious group also reportedly still holds a grudge against ABS-CBN over its scathing reports on the leadership feud between INC Executive Minister Eduardo Manalo, his mother, Cristina “Ka Tenny” Manalo, and his younger brother, Felix Nathaniel “Ka Angel” Manalo, five years ago.