An administration lawmaker on Wednesday said legislators were feeling the “pressure” following President Rodrigo Duterte’s stand against the renewal of the franchise of television network ABS-CBN.
“We are being applied pressure from all sides by no less than the President. We admit that,” Isabela Rep. Antonio Albano told a radio interview.
“It’s a huge pressure because that’s the President of the Republic of the Philippines.”
Albano said the legislators were also “not only being pressured by the President, but even ABS-CBN had been running stories.”
But later in the day, Albano retracted his statement saying the House committee on legislative franchises, led by Palawan Rep. Franz Alvarez, echoed the stand of Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano that on the matter of ABS CBN’s franchise, “we are proceeding steadily but cautiously given the highly charged atmosphere.”
Cayetano urged ABS-CBN to do some “soul-searching” to reflect on “how we have all reached this point.”
He made the statement in the wake of the public furor coming from the Solicitor General’s filing of a quo warranto case before the Supreme Court asking for the forfeiture of the legislative franchise of ABS-CBN, which is set to expire late next month.
Malacañang said Duterte’s tirades against ABS-CBN should be ignored by lawmakers who are mandated by law to grant television franchises.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said Congress should deal with ABS-CBN’s franchise renewa
l with impartiality and disregard the President’s displeasure with it.
“They should do their duty as members of the Congress,” Panelo told reporters.
“Any statement of displeasure from the President should be ignored by them in relation to their official work.”
Solicitor General Jose Calida
said Wednesday ABS-CBN was illegally acquiring smaller corporations that have legislative franchises over frequencies and using investment schemes to circumvent the constitutional restriction on foreign ownership of mass media entities.
The Senate Employees Union on Wednesday aired their support to the 11,000 workers of ABS-CBN if its franchise to operate would not be renewed.
READ: 17 senators close ranks for ABS
Nueva Viola, spokesperson of the Sandigan ng Empleyadong Nagkakaisa sa Adhikain ng Demokratikong Organisasyon, said the quo warranto pleading filed before the high court was not only an attack on ABS-CBN but also an assault on the rights of workers.
“Let us not deprive our people their right to information and let us not deprive our workers of their right to job security and decent life,” Viola said. With MJ Blancaflor and Macon Ramos-Araneta
READ: House to ABS-CBN: You get fair shake
READ: ABS-CBN issues statement on OSG's quo warranto petition