ABS-CBN denies 'bribe' accusations: 'We believe, participated in the process'
File photo shows employees and supporters lighting candles at the gate as the ABS-CBN Corporation office in Quezon City shines the network's colors.
The STAR/Miguel de Guzman
ABS-CBN denies 'bribe' accusations: 'We believe, participated in the process'
Franco Luna (Philstar.com) - July 9, 2020 - 1:10pm

MANILA, Philippines — Broadcast giant ABS-CBN Corporation denied Thursday a lawmaker's accusations that it sent a representative to bribe congressmen to vote in favor of its long-delayed franchise application. 

In a statement, the company denied the accusations, saying: "ABS-CBN did not send an emissary to bribe any lawmaker to vote in favor of our franchise application. We believe in the process and we have participated in the process. We answered all issues raised in the past 12 hearings."

This comes after Rep. Eric Yap (ACT-CIS Party-list) claimed that he received a call two weeks ago from an alleged emissary of ABS-CBN offering P200 million for him to vote for franchise renewal. Though going public with his accusation, Yap said, interestingly, that he did not immediately divulge the incident to the media because he felt that it would be unfair to ABS-CBN as he wasn't sure if the caller was indeed an emissary.

"My answer was simple, my principles and vote are not for sale," the administration-allied lawmaker said. 

Former Kabataan party-list lawmaker Terry Ridon slammed these accusations, pointing out: "At Eric Yap's price per congressman, how much is the payoff to reach the majority of legislative franchise members? P4.6 billion. Will anyone sell a third of their company just to payoff a congressional committee? Probably not. To reach a majority of all members, P30.4 billion."

"Pre, ano pinagsasabi mo (What are you saying)?" he chastised. 

Past hearings

Instead of alleged legal concerns, it was the content produced by the beleaguered company that was picked apart at this week's hearings in the face of allegations ranging from moral malfeasance to bias in its airtime selection of interviewees and experts. However, nowhere in its former franchise are “bias” and “morality” mentioned as standards to which the company should adhere. Not even “journalism” is mentioned. 

Old wounds were reopened over the protracted House session which lasted late into the night as lawman after lawman took turns airing grievances over the network’s journalism and editorial guidelines. Most of what was discussed were long-addressed kerfuffles that congressmen saw fit to bring up after months sitting on the company’s legislative franchise upon which its rights to broadcast depended. 

Rep. Lito Atienza (Buhay party-list), Rep. Edcel Lagman (Albay) and Rep. Lawrence Fortun (Agusan del Norte) have since gone on record to say that they believed the beleaguered company "won" in the hearings and sufficiently rebutted allegations in the event that their fellow lawmakers base their votes on merit.

Allegations including contractual obligations, violations of labor laws, foreign ownership, among others, were brought up at the hearings from the week before, though a number of these had already been addressed and cleared at a Senate hearing. 

Since the onset of his administration, President Rodrigo Duterte has made it clear that he an ax to grind with critical media and has hit ABS-CBN, as well as Rappler and the Philippine Daily Inquirer, in his speeches and addresses, signaling to a number of media watchdogs that the issue of their legislative franchise was political.

 with reports from The STAR/Edu Punay 

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: July 22, 2020 - 8:59am

ABS-CBN Corp. stopped broadcasting on its TV and radio stations on May 5, 2020 after the National Telecommunications Commission issued a cease and desist order. The network's franchise had lapsed on May 4 without action by the House of Representatives.

July 22, 2020 - 8:59am

Lawmakers of the Makabayan bloc ask the House committee on legislative franchise to submit the report and the adopted resolution denying the franchise of ABS-CBN to the plenary for ratification.

In a letter addressed to Rep. Franz Alvarez (Palawan), Rep. Carlos Zarate (Bayan Muna Party-list) points out that the decision of the House panel to deny ABS-CBN a new franchise requires the approval of the entire lower chamber of Congress.

"Again, we reiterate that it is the duty, and in fact the right, of every member of the House to voice the opinion of their constituents through a plenary vote," the letter reads.

July 16, 2020 - 6:35pm

ABS-CBN’s sports production department announces that it will stop operations after non-renewal of the legislative franchise of the media giant. 

The network said in a statement Wednesday that it is forced to cease some business operations and implement a retrenchment program covering the network and its subsidiaries.

July 15, 2020 - 6:59pm

ABS-CBN announces it will implement a retrenchment program effective August 31 as it has been forced to cease operations of some of its businesses.

"We are doing all we can to mitigate the pain that will be felt by those affected, including paying out separation and retirement benefits and providing job placement programs. The loss of their jobs comes at a time when the uncertain and perilous impact of the COVID-19 pandemic further makes our decision truly difficult, but inevitable," the network also says.

"As much as it hurts us to implement this retrenchment program, this is the only way to ensure the continued employment of the rest of our Kapamilya," it also says as it wishes those affected by retrenchment well.

"For all that you have done for ABS-CBN, maraming salamat po."

July 13, 2020 - 10:22am

More than 500 journalists and media workers express solidarity with thousands of ABS-CBN workers who risk losing their jobs after a House panel denied the broadcast giant a new franchise.

In a statement released Monday, various journalists, editors and workers from different media organizations condemned the "unjust and cruel" decision of the House of Representatives committee on legislative franchises.

"One media outfit shut down because of the whims and trivialities of those in power is one too many, especially at a time when the public needs credible and independently verified information to make informed choices," the statement read.


July 12, 2020 - 6:33pm

Reporters covering the Senate on Sunday say the decision by a House panel to reject ABS-CBN's application for a new franchise "showed us that these lawmakers have become a heavy burden, a compounder of problems, and a worsener of woes to our already suffering nation."

They cite the potential loss of thousands of jobs while the country is dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and say that the "serious economic repercussions" of the network shutdown are already being felt.

"The call of some lawmakers for Filipinos to move on is insensitive and an insult to the intelligence of the people," they also say. 

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