Defensor denies personal vendetta vs. ABS-CBN, says Lopez kin did not shut down mining company

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 14)— Anakalusugan party-list Rep. Mike Defensor on Tuesday shot down claims he voted against granting a fresh franchise to media giant ABS-CBN due to personal resentment.

Speaking to CNN Philippines, Defensor said the late Environment Secretary Gina Lopez, the sister of the network’s chairman emeritus Eugenio “Gabby” Lopez III, was not behind the closure of Pax Libera Mining, where he serves as chairman. Some netizens have suggested that the mining company’s shutdown may have had something to do with the lawmaker’s stand on the issue.

“Secretary Gina Lopez did not suspend any mining corporation in Tawi-Tawi,” Defensor told The Source when asked to respond to claims that he had harbored resentment against ABS-CBN. “We have our own Department of Environment and Natural Resources in ARMM (the then Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) that is not covered by the authority of DENR-Central.”

“There was not even an investigation or an audit of the mines there by Secretary Lopez. It was in fact DENR-ARMM which conducted an audit and which they continue to do so. In fairness to our company and many other companies in Tawi-Tawi, those things never happened in our area during her time,” he added.

In 2016, the DENR-ARMM suspended mining operations in the area, in light of an audit order from authorities.

Lopez, during her tenure as Environment chief, had stuck to the mission of closing down mining operations which have violated environmental laws.

Defensor was among the 70 lawmakers who voted to junk ABS-CBN’s application for a fresh franchise, a move widely criticized by netizens and rights groups in the country and abroad.

The solon defended the House Committee on Legislative Franchises’ decision on the case, citing various issues and controversies pointed out during panel deliberations.

READ: Defensor on ABS-CBN franchise vote: Lawmakers’ job is to study application, not to be popular

The media company, which has previously refuted allegations hurled against them, said it will continue to deliver news through the limited platforms available.