MANILA – Cavite 4th District Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. has requested that a congressional probe into alleged infractions committed by media corporation ABS-CBN Corp. be reopened.
He noted the need to revisit the grounds brought against ABS-CBN “to evaluate if the firm had addressed the legal infringements and other infractions that led to the loss of its legislative franchise in 2020” in a statement released Tuesday.
“These legal and constitutional difficulties include ABS-possible CBN’s violations of the constitutional limits on foreign ownership, as well as its documented infractions of labor and tax regulations, as well as other violations of its previous franchise.” “We need to know if ABS-CBN has been respecting the law or if it has continued to violate or circumvent it,” said Barzaga, vice chair of the House Committee on Legislative Franchises.
The experienced congressman pointed out that ABS-CBN initially attempted to merge with TV-5 in order to capitalize on the latter’s parliamentary franchise. The merger was called off when many politicians announced their intention to scrutinize the agreement.
Following the failure of its merger deal, ABS-CBN entered into another partnership, this time with foreign cable channels Discovery Asia and Asian Food Network.
While Barzaga finds no potential violations of this agreement at this time, he adds, “we don’t know if there are other accords that ABS-CBN has gone into that need to be evaluated to see if they are breaching the law.”
He also stated that a reinvestigation of ABS-CBN by Congress could help the corporation, as President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. previously stated that the media company would be able to secure a new franchise “after all the allegations against it are settled.”
The 18th Congress refused ABS-application CBN’s for a new 25-year franchise on the grounds that the company had, among other things, violated the constitutional prohibitions on foreign ownership by issuing Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDRs) to foreigners.
According to the previous House Committee on Legislative Franchises, this may contravene the constitutional provision prohibiting foreign ownership and administration of mass media.
According to the panel, questions were also raised about ABS-emeritus CBN’s chairman, Eugenio “Gabby” Lopez III’s dual citizenship; violations of its previous franchise by operating a pay-per-view channel without prior approval from the National Telecommunications Commission; the use of a dummy franchise; its less-than-exemplary labor practices; and tax avoidance schemes.