Lacson-Sotto back new franchise for ABS-CBN

Angelica Y. Yang - Philstar.com
Lacson-Sotto back new franchise for ABS-CBN
This photo of Sen. Ping Lacson (L) and Senate President Tito Sotto (R) was taken on April 5, 2022 during the tandem's press conference in Bohol.
Lacson-Sotto Campaign / Viber

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Panfilo "Ping" Lacson and Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto III said Tuesday they are in favor of renewing the franchise of ABS-CBN, which was denied two years ago by a House panel.

Lacson, an independent candidate, and Sotto, who chairs the Nationalist People's Coalition, are both running for the presidency and vice presidency, respectively, in this year's elections. 

Asked if he was in favor of giving ABS-CBN a new franchise, Lacson replied: "Yes...I think that will enhance competitiveness or competition."

"There used to be only two networks. Right now, there's SMNI, TV 5, CNN. There are many others. But if you take one out, there will be less competition," he said in Filipino.

Lacson pointed out the need to enhance the participation of the mass media in society, highlighting their role as watchdogs. 

"I think if there is no media, there would be more abuses," he said.

Meanwhile, Sotto said he supports ABS-CBN's franchise renewal, citing a bill he filed seeking to revive the network's broadcast franchise. 

On July 10, 2020, 70 lawmakers at the House of Representatives voted to reject the media giant's application for a new franchise, following through President Rodrigo Duterte's threats to shut the network down. 

Six months later, Rep. Franz Alvarez (Palawan) of the House legislative franchises committee said the panel's decision is final as lawmakers who voted against it, did not file a motion for reconsideration.

Decriminalize libel, but...

Lacson, on Tuesday, promised to support any move to decriminalize libel, if elected as president.

"This is a perennial problem...but this is the catch- we'll decriminalize it, but we [will] put in...more teeth in the civil liabilities of the media because after all, you should be responsible with what you are writing or broadcasting," he said.

READ: It is time for the Philippines to decriminalize libel

Press freedom and freedom of expression advocates have long called for the decriminalization of libel and cyber libel, which the UN Human Rights Council has pointed out is excessive and is incompatible with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Sotto, meanwhile, said he will focus on media protection and ensuring that national and local media practitioners will be assured of security of tenure.  








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