Lawmaker wants to reopen investigation on ABS-CBN

PHILIPPINE STAR/ MICHAEL VARCAS

A CONGRESSMAN on Tuesday sought to resume the congressional investigation of the alleged violations done by media company ABS-CBN Corp.

“These legal and constitutional issues include the possible violations committed by ABS-CBN on the constitutional limits on foreign ownership, its reported violations of labor and tax laws and other violations of its previous franchise,” Cavite Rep. Elpidio F. Barzaga, Jr. said in a statement.

Mr. Barzaga, the vice chairperson of the House legislative franchises committee, said a revisit of the issues against ABS-CBN aims to know if it has resolved its violations.

In August, ABS-CBN announced a deal to merge with TV5 Network, Inc., which has an existing legislative franchise. Under the deal, ABS-CBN was to acquire roughly 34.99% of TV-5 for P2.16 billion. But in September, the deal was terminated.

“We do not know if there are other deals that ABS-CBN has entered into which need to be reviewed to find out if they are violating the law,” Mr. Barzaga said.

The congressional reinvestigation could benefit ABS-CBN as even President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. said that the media company would be able to secure a new franchise when issues are resolved.

In the 18th Congress, the franchise renewal application of ABS-CBN was denied on supposed violation of constitutional limits on foreign ownership and other issues.

ABS-CBN corporate communication officials did not immediately respond to a text message seeking comment.

Michael Henry Ll. Yusingco, a policy analyst, said that the proposal should be ignored.

“This is a settled matter and to re-investigate the same would be a complete waste of time and taxpayers’ money,” he said via Facebook Messenger chat.

He said that the lawmakers must focus on the legislative agenda of the administration set by the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council.

“Their individual agenda must now take a back seat and the President’s legislative agenda should now be the priority,” he said.

Terry L. Ridon, a public investment analyst, said that the investigation on ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal is moot as Congress rejected its franchise renewal.

“As there were no findings on nonpayment of taxes and other violations during those exhaustive proceedings, the public can expect to find no new findings if Congress indeed revives its inquiry,” he said via Facebook Messenger chat.

The congressional time might be better spent on other matters, such as economic recovery, taming inflation, and job generation, he said.

Meanwhile, ACT-Teachers Party-list Rep. France L. Castro said that if the reinvestigation is pushed through, it embodies a Congress which abuses its powers to the media.

“To be frank, SMNI News should be investigated instead of ABS-CBN, since the former has many violations under the code of ethics of Kapisanan ng mga Broadkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP),” she said in Filipino in a statement. — Kyanna Angela Bulan