ABS-CBN shutdown on Cayetano â Lagman, Atienza
File photo shows former Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano speaking during a briefing on the situation of the West Philippine Sea at the House of Representatives.
DFA/MJ Roldan, File

ABS-CBN shutdown on Cayetano — Lagman, Atienza

Kristine Joy Patag (Philstar.com) - May 6, 2020 - 1:26pm

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 6:43 p.m.) — The shutdown of ABS-CBN on Tuesday is on House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano whose leadership sat on franchise renewal bills of the network at the Congress, Rep. Edcel Lagman (Albay, 1st District) said.

In an interview with CNN Philippines’ "The Source", Lagman said that he does not believe that his colleagues should be blamed. “I think it’s the leadership that should take responsibility for what happened.”

Rep. Lito Atienza, in a separate interview with ANC, also pinned the blame on Cayetano. “He will have a lot to explain in one day. It may not be today but later on this issue would hound him because he is the one who did not do his job,” he said.

ABS-CBN stopped broadcasting Tuesday night, hours after it received a cease and desist order from the National Telecommunications Commission after its franchise expired.

But this could have been averted, Lagman said, as he pointed out “there was seasonable re-enactment of the franchise.”

RELATED: ABS-CBN franchise hearings to go beyond 2022 polls — Cayetano

Lagman has also consistently held that the franchise of ABS-CBN is a matter solely under Congress.

He reiterated in the TV interview that equity—the principle cited Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra in provisional authority for the network—cannot apply on ABS-CBN’s case.

Rep. Joey Salceda (Albay, 2nd District) meanwhile stressed that NTC’s action pre-empted Congress from doing its job and the agency should not have abandoned its earlier promise.

In a statement, Salceda said: “Considering that the Congress is busy with much more pressing matters, such as coming up with an economic recovery plan to protect jobs and families from COVID-19, this is a distraction.”

Deputy Speaker Aurelio Gonzales Jr. (Pampanga, 3rd District) meanwhile pointed out that the letter signed by Cayetano and Rep. Franz Alvarez (Palawan, 1st District), House legislative franchise panel chair, to the NTC “may be used as authoritative instruction coming from an institution.”

Lagman also said: “The only solution is for the House of Representatives and so shall the senate to pass seasonably the franchise renewal of ABS-CBN there is no other solution.”

Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III wrote in a tweet Tuesday night that the Senate “will approve” the franchise of the network if brought to them.

House should function independently

The closure of the network should also be a lesson to the House, Lagman said.

“This is a lesson for House of Representatives that it should exercise its Constitutional powers independently and without succumbing to the intervention of the president,” he added.

President Rodrigo Duterte has been airing his displeasure at ABS-CBN for years, accusing the network of biased coverage against the administration and of “swindling” him when it did not air his campaign materials. He even said he will not renew their franchise, if he had his way, and the network may be better sold off.

Cayetano, who was Duterte’s running mate, said in mid-February that they need “cooler heads” to tackle the franchise renewal bills and more important measures may suffer.

ABS-CBN CEO Carlo Katigbak apologized to Duterte, and the president accepted it on February 26.

Lagman said that Duterte’s acceptance of the network’s apology “could have been a go signal for the House to proceed.”

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