ABS-CBN denies 'bribe' accusations: 'We believe, participated in the process'

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
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

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 

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As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: May 23, 2023 - 1:36pm

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.

May 23, 2023 - 1:36pm

ABS-CBN announces that it will cease operations of TeleRadyo, which has been in the red since 2020, by June 30.

August 11, 2022 - 9:37am

In a disclosure, ABS confirms signing of deal that sees the broadcast giant enter into a joint venture with MVP's TV5. — Ramon Royandoyan


January 27, 2021 - 3:35pm

Rep. Mike Defensor (Anakalusugan Party-list) attempts to put the ABS-CBN franchise up for a vote in the plenary, saying it should be taken up as it is in the House's unfinished business.

The House rejects his motion, but he appeals this. House leaders later on commit to begin tackling its unfinished business beginning Monday. —  Xave Gregorio

January 18, 2021 - 3:38pm

Rep. Vilma Santos-Recto (Batangas) has filed a bill seeking the renewal of the franchise granted to broadcast giant ABS-CBN.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III earlier filed a similar bill at the Senate, saying a majority of Filipinos get their news primarily from TV. 

Franchise bills emanate from the House of Representatives.

January 5, 2021 - 8:00pm

Malacañang is leaving it up to Congress to decide on the new bill seeking to renew the franchise of television network ABS-CBN, which was forced to lay off thousands of workers after its franchise expired last May. 

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque disagreed, saying the fate of the bill depends on lawmakers. 

"Well, again, I beg to differ; that is a sole constitutional prerogative of Congress which must originate from the House of Representatives," Roque says at a press briefing. —  Alexis Romero

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