House panels want to compare PDRs of ABS-CBN vs other media entities

House panels want to compare PDRs of ABS-CBN vs other media entities
A guard passes logo of ABS-CBN at the network’s compound, a day it was ordered shut by National Telecommunications Commission, May 6, 2020.
The STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives will look into Philippine Depositary Receipts of media entities that will apply or have been granted with legislative franchise.

Rep. Jose Antonio Sy-Alvarado (Bulacan, 1st District), chair of the House committee on Good Government and Public Accountability, directed the panel’s secretary to secure copies of PDRs “of all major broadcasting mass media in the country that will apply or otherwise applied and given franchise by this committee.”

Alvarado issued this directive at the resumption of his committee and the House’s panel on legislative franchise deliberation on ABS-CBN’s franchise bills on Thursday.

PDRs are financial instrument allowing foreigners to invest in a Filipino company without owning any part of it.

“Because what we are discussing is PDR, even if ABS-CBN is the only one applying now, this committee would like to see PDRs of all media and broadcasting companies,” Alvarado said in Filipino.

“I hope that before the next hearing, we can secure [copies] and compare if all PDRs contain the same contents,” he added.

Allegations vs ABS-CBN

ABS-CBN is accused of foreign ownership, allegedly through PDR. The Constitution states that mass media ownership must be limited to Filipino citizens.

Rep. Michael Defensor (Anakalusugan party-list) claimed that PDR holders “have control over the corporation.”

“Ang PDR po ay isang pagapalusot ng pagmamay-ari ng banyaga,” he added.

(PDRs are an excuse to hide foreign owners.)

ABS-CBN’s legal counsel, Cynthia Del Castillo, told the lawmakers that holders of PDRs issued by ABS-CBN Holdings are “passive investors.”

PDR holders also “have no rights on ownership or management of mass media [corporation] which is ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp,” she added.

GMA-7, another broadcasting giant in the country, uses PDRs.

Later in the hearing, Securities and Exchange Commissioner Ephyro Amatong said that based on documents submitted by GMA-7, wordings of PDRs of the two media companies are the same.

The hearing is ongoing as of this story’s posting.  — Kristine Joy Patag

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