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Thursday, November 30, 2023

‘Franchise rejection targets Lopezes’

Two opposition lawmakers on Tuesday expressed belief that the rejection of ABS-CBN Corp.’s network franchise renewal application was intended to take ownership from the Lopez family.

Reps. Edcel Lagman of Albay and Lito Atienza of Buhay party-list made the comment in response to the suggestion made by Deputy Speaker and Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte for the Lopezes to sell the network to other businessmen so it could stand a chance to secure a franchise in 2022.

Lagman alleged that the rejection of the franchise application of ABS-CBN by the House committee on legislative franchises “not only infringed on press freedom but also an assault to a private property.”

“It appears that the sinister plot is to oust the Lopezes from ABS-CBN by denying its franchise renewal so that they can be coerced to sell the network to an anointed buyer,” Lagman told reporters late Monday.

“Slowly the cat is coming out of the bag. The ABS-CBN’s bid for a fresh franchise was consigned to the dustbin for malevolent motives exposing the pretence of ‘neutrality’ and ‘fair play’ by the Duterte administration and the House leadership,” he added.

Atienza shared a similar view, as he said the idea to sell the network to another owner was deplorable if indeed that was the reason for the rejection of the application.

“This proposal only proves that the real target of the franchise rejection was the Lopez family. They wanted the Lopezes out – to the detriment of 11,000 workers and millions of Filipinos relying on the broadcast and services of ABS-CBN,” Atienza said.

Atienza also said that the decision of Congress to reject the franchise bills “failed in the cost-benefit analysis.”

“Nobody benefitted from the denial of the franchise renewal application, but a hidden few. In fact the country lost so much from it,” added Atienza.

Villafuerte earlier broached the idea for the Lopez family to just sell ABS-CBN if they want to again apply for a legislative franchise in 2022.

“My suggestion to the Lopez family, they just sell the corporation and if they really love the 11,000 employees or more, and they really want to serve the Filipino people, they should just sell the company,” Villafuerte said last week.

“I will support the renewal under new management and ownership. Big companies can run it, provide the manpower, financial, economic, technical expertise to run the company,” Villafuerte said.

He, however, did not say which companies could be interested in taking over ABS-CBN.

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