House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano mentioned ABS-CBN’s alleged bias in its coverage of the 2010 and 2016 elections as one of the issues that needs to be resolved as the network’s franchise renewal bid hangs in limbo.
In a speech at a mass wedding in Paranaque City Friday (February 14), Cayetano said ABS-CBN is far from being an ideal network despite its contributions to the country.
“Noong 2010 at 2016 election, yung pakikialam sa eleksyon malaking isyu yun, meron tayong Fair Election Act, may batas tayo na ang media hindi pwedeng hindi patas kapag eleksyon,” he said.
ABS-CBN, owned by the Lopez family, has long been accused of being “Dilawan,” a colloquial term to people or groups allied with the Aquino administration.
President Rodrigo Duterte also claimed to be a victim of the network’s alleged biased coverage during the 2016 elections, saying his campaign ad wasn’t aired by ABS-CBN even if it was already paid for.
Cayetano said the issue of ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal was less about stifling press freedom, but more of ensuring accountability.
“Yes, hindi mo pwedeng tanggalin na merong issue ng press freedom. Pero pag hindi ba binigay ang prangkisa, patay na ba press freedom?,” he said in an interview after the mass wedding.
RA 3846 or the law regulating Radio stations and Radio Communications in the Philippine requires that commercial broadcasting corporations have to secure a legislative franchise for them to operate.
“Kung press freedom ay automatic, e ‘di dapat wala na tayong dadaan sa Congress. Automatic na lang. Hindi, isasabatas natin. Sa Amerika, ang mga istasyon, pwede mag-endorso ng kandidato. Iba po ang prangkisa nila. Iba po ang duties at batas nila. Tayo, may Fair Election Act tayo,” he said.
Cayetano has assured that the House will conduct fair hearings on ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal bid, but indicated he will let its existing franchise expire first.