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Iglesia Ni Cristo shows hand in ABS-CBN shutdown with Marcoleta leading anti-franchise bloc

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Iglesia Ni Cristo has confirmed its involvement in the bid to block ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal with its member leading the group of legislators opposed to the network’s application.

SAGIP party-list Rep. Rodante Marcoleta spoke in behalf of those against ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal bid during the first joint committee hearing held on the matter Tuesday (May 26).

Marcoleta said Congress should deny ABS-CBN’s franchise application due to its alleged violations of the Constitution and laws.

He accused the network of evading taxes, violating labor laws and the constitutional ban on foreign ownership of media entities, as well as biased political coverage.

Marcoleta also claimed ABS-CBN has gone beyond the 50-year constitutional limit on franchises as it has been operating for 53 years.

“It is but right for the House of Representatives to deny this time the franchise of ABS-CBN,” he said.

Netizen Elgin Lazaro III, who counts over 13,000 followers on Facebook, said: “With Marcoleta entering the scene, the right question to ask is: What does Iglesia ni Cristo want from ABS-CBN?”

Politiko reported on May 11 that INC auditor-general Glicerio Santos Jr. sent his son to directly lobby with House leaders led by Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano to ensure ABS-CBN’s franchise wouldn’t be renewed.

READ MORE: Frequencies eyed: INC’s top money man Santos lobbied House leaders to block ABC-CBN renewal – sources

Sources said INC wants to take over ABS-CBN’s frequencies, which include Channels 2 and 23 on free television, as well as those for its AM and FM radio stations.

Marcoleta’s obedience to INC is well known. In 2016, he bolted the eight-member minority bloc because, according to Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, it was what the influential religious group wanted.

READ MORE: Iglesia Ni Cristo plays politics again, asks Marcoleta to join Duterte’s supermajoritty in Congress

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