Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate said ABS-CBN Corp has “proved its integrity” when the House of Representatives made it go through a tedious hearing process.
Zarate pointed out that other media networks were granted new franchises in several “hours or days,” which is far from the 12 hearings ABS-CBN had to go through.
“Ang ABS-CBN, pinadaan natin sa butas ng karayom… Ito ay naging pagkakataon para mapatunayan natin na kahit sa pinakamasusing pagsasala, lumulutang ang katapatan at ang integridad ng ABS-CBN,” Zarate said during the final hearing.
“Hindi lang ito sabi-sabi. Sino ang mga nagpatotoo nito? Mismong mga ahensya ng gobyerno,” he added.
Justice Undersecretary Emelline Aglipay-Villar also testified saying that the issue of illegal foreign ownership is not even an issue as ABS-CBN Corp chairman emeritus Eugenio “Gabby” Lopez III is a Filipino simply due to his parents being Filipino citizens.
“There’s no distinction made between pure Filipino and dual citizens,” said Zarate, citing Justice Assistant Secretary Nicholas Ty.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) also testified that “a dual citizen is 100 percent Filipino,” Zarate said noting that SEC Commissioner Ephyro Luis Amatong told Congress that ABS-CBN’s Philippine Depositary Receipts “do not reflect transfer of ownership to foreigners.”
The Bureau of Internal Revenue on the other hand clarified once again that ABS-CBN doesn’t have any tax deficiencies and is actually one of the country’s top taxpayers, Zarate said.
ABS-CBN also doesn’t have any tax shield as mentioned by Philippine Economic Zone Authority officials.
Zarate stressed that the ownership of the company remained under the Lopez Family during martial law and the then government was “limited only to possession.”.
Regarding issues on biased reporting, the Commission on Elections said the network did not violate any poll law, he said.
“Matapos ang napakaraming bintang, walang napatunayan na pagkakasala ang ABS-CBN. Sa halip, nakita natin ang kaniyang pakinabang sa bayan bilang tagapaglingkod,” Zarate said.
ABS-CBN is able to reach millions of OFWs and remote areas which other networks cannot do. Zarate also stressed that the network informed the public and helped out indigents during hard times, including the current pandemic.
Summit Media’s July 5 survey suggested that 92 percent of respondents want ABS-CBN to be given a new franchise.
Zarate added that ABS-CBN isn’t new to educational shows which is helpful as the shift to online learning is becoming the option. He also questioned why lawmakers would put in jeopardy the jobs of 11,000 ABS-CBN workers amid the pandemic that has left around 7.3 million Filipinos unemployed.
“Bakit naman natin paparusahan ang isang kumpanya na walang pagkakasala? Bakit natin pipigilang maglingkod ang isang kumpanya at ang kaniyang mga nasasakupan na may malaking pakinabang sa isang nagsisikap na bayan na gaya sa atin?” he said.
“Sumama po tayo sa panig ng matuwid at tama: bigyan po natin ng pagkakataon pang muling makapaglingkod ang ABS-CBN sa ating mamamayan at sa ating bayan… I-renew po natin ang kanilang prangkisa,” he added.