ABS-CBN critic, ivermectin advocate Marcoleta withdraws Senate bid

ABS-CBN critic, ivermectin advocate Marcoleta withdraws Senate bid
Rep. Mike Defensor (Anakalusugan party-list) and Deputy Speaker Rodante Marcoleta (Sagip party-list)lead the distribution of anti-parasite drug ivermectin at the Matandang Balara’s barangay hall in Quezon City on April 29, 2021.
The STAR / Boy Santos

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 9:16 p.m.) — Deputy Speaker Rodante Marcoleta, the House member who took pride in taking ABS-CBN off the air, has withdrawn as a candidate for senator, citing poor showing in pre-election surveys.

Less than half of respondents in a Pulse Asia survey in March, 48%, said they were aware of Marcoleta and only 9.2% said they would vote for the congressman, who was also in the headlines in 2017 for moving to give the Commission on Human Rights an annual budget of P1,000 for 2019. The House voted 119-32 to adopt Marcoleta's motion.

In a release announcing his withdrawal from the senatorial race, Marcoleta is quoted as saying "the fighter in me should be brave enough to read the writings on the wall." According to a Rappler report, the Commission on Elections has accepted Marcoleta's notice of withdrawal.

He thanked President Rodrigo Duterte, the administration PDP-Laban party and the People's Reform Party for their encouragement and endorsements and said he hopes the people and groups who supported his bid to be a senator will be "kind and accomodating enough to understand" his decision to withdraw.

He also said that his withdrawal from the race will not keep him from supporting the UniTeam tandem of presidential aspirant Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio. 

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Marcoleta was among the party-list lawmakers who distributed anti-parasitic drug ivermectin despite a lack of actual evidence that it could cure or prevent COVID-19.

"We need to cross the line and break the glass ceilings, if we must, one way or the other. We cannot, in good conscience, sit idly by at the excuse of inflexible bureaucracy to deny our people — especially the underprivileged — their pharmaceutically-assisted moments as they struggle to breathe their last," Marcoleta said in a joint statement with Anakalusugan party-list.

RELATED: ABS-CBN shutdown still chills Philippine media a year after

Marcoleta was also one of the notable figures in hearings on ABS-CBN's application for a new franchise and has highlighted his role in them at campaign sorties.

During the hearings, representatives from government agencies had testified that issues raised against the broadcast giant either did not exist or were already being addressed.

"It must be emphasized, Mr. Chair, that contrary to ABS-CBN's submission, it is not the view of the [Securities and Exchange Commission] that matters here. It is not the opinion of the [Department of Justice] that will prevail here, not even the Bureau of Immigration or other agencies," he said during the July 9, 2020 hearing on the franchise application.

"It is the will of Congress that should be accorded due respect simply because it is Congress that has the sole and ultimate authority to grant or deny application of franchises," he said.

The House Committee on Legislative Franchises voted on July 10, 2020 to reject ABS-CBN's application for a new franchise. The decision put the livelihood of thousands of the network's workers at risk and the network has laid off at least 4,000 since then. — Jonathan de Santos



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