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

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 14)— Anakalusugan party-list Rep. Mike Defensor on Tuesday defended lawmakers’ decision on the franchise bid of media giant ABS-CBN, saying it is only their duty to look into the application and study the compliance of an organization seeking to operate.

“In this particular case of the ABS-CBN franchise hearing, it is not our duty to be popular. Our duty is to comply with our constitutionally mandated task of looking into a private franchise application,” Defensor told CNN Philippines’ The Source, in response to the Social Weather Stations survey saying majority of Filipinos wanted the company’s franchise renewed.

“I think it’s a disservice for any congressmen or for any senator to vote for something that is wrong or they find it wrong, but because it is popular, they will still do so… I think you fail as a leader if you always do what is popular,” he added.

The SWS survey— released a day after the House committee on legislative franchises rejected the network's fresh application — showed 3 out of 4 Filipinos or 75 percent wanted Congress to renew ABS-CBN's franchise. Another 56 percent, on the other hand, said the non-renewal was a "major blow to press freedom."

Defensor, for his part, acknowledged that there may be comments and criticisms on the case, noting how the franchise issue has been a “highly politicized one.” However, he said he is not personally affected by it.

The lawmaker was among the 70 who voted to junk ABS-CBN’s application— a move widely criticized by netizens and rights groups in the country and abroad.

Some critics noted that the technical working group’s report— which recommended the license denial due to various issues— did not give a comprehensive overview on the reasons or basis for some of the network’s supposed violations.

But Defensor maintained the decision went through a process, adding that all essential points and arguments raised in the panel deliberations were reflected in the document.

While ABS-CBN remains off the air, the company said it will continue to deliver news through the limited platforms available to them.

Malacañang, on the other hand, stressed affected employees can also avail of the same benefits and support provided by the government to workers displaced by the COVID-19 pandemic.

READ: Palace on ABS-CBN franchise denial: Respect the decision, let’s move on