Senator Bong Go makes an opening statement. He explains what ABS-CBN did to candidate Duterte in 2016
SEN. GO. Medyo mahaba lang itong opening statement ko, ma’am, pero maraming laman at you might be interested to listen carefully. Distinguished colleagues and our resource persons, a pleasant good morning to everyone.
We are here today to talk about an issue which has been all over headlines of almost every news outlet in the country over the last few weeks. Today, along with other broadcast franchise application, we are here to talk about legislative franchise of ABS-CBN.
Let me first state in the light of pending case before the Supreme Court, dealing with the issues surrounding ABS-CBN’s current franchise, that I respect the authority of the high court as a co-equal branch of government. I shall respect its decision if it so decides that certain issues are better left to the discussion pending before them now.
Further, I also respect the authority of the House of Representatives, our fellow legislators whom under the origination clause of our Constitution are given the primary responsibility to initiate private and local bills, among others.
Nananawagan po ako sa ating mga kasamahan sa Lower House na gawin na ang kanilang mandato sa Saligang Batas at umpisahan na ang diskurso. Habang tumatagal, lalong umiinit ang diskusyon at ang damdamin ng mga Pilipino. Let us get to the bottom of it.
Shall we vote to approve or deny the franchise renewal? Ganoon lang ho kasimple. Huwag na nating sayangin ang oras ng publiko. Let us deal with the issue now so we can turn our attention to the countless other matters that require our full and undivided attention.
Sinabi ko na rin po dati na ang pagdinig na magaganap ngayong umaga ay maaaring magbibigay ng kapaliwanagan sa napakaraming katanungan na lumabas hinggil sa isyung ito. Diniin ko rin po kung anuman ang mangyari sa pagdinig na ito, I would participate for the sake for the people and decide, just as the President says, according to good conscience.
Gawin na natin ito alang-alang na po sa libu-libong empleyado ng ABS-CBN at sa milyun-milyong Pilipinong tagasubaybay nito, both to whom the network owes the highest degree of responsibility being the largest broadcast network in the nation and a grantee of legislative franchise. Kapakanan at interes po ng bawat Pilipino ang dapat manguna sa anumang magiging desisyon.
May mga katanungan na inihain ang Solicitor General sa Korte Suprema sa petisyong ito ukol sa kasalukuyang prangkisa ng ABS- CBN. Whether or not these things can be discussed in this forum is a question for this Committee to address.
There is no doubt that addressing these issues can shed light on the question of whether or not this franchise grantee has been compliant, not only with the provisions of its current franchise, but equally important with the provisions of other laws as well.
Of course, it is also important to ask our resource persons their opinions on what will happen to the grantee’s operations if upon the expiration of the franchise, as provided under Republic Act 7966, a law is yet to be passed by Congress.
Franchise imposes responsibilities
As the saying goes, we want to give every party, especially the applicant in question, their fair day in court. I also want to hear them address these issues in front of the public, lest we say that we did not do our job as legislators to give every party their right to be heard. These are the things we must do and we owe it to the public to do these things according to our good conscience.
Let me just reiterate that every grantee of a legislative franchise faces responsibilities imposed upon them.
In the case of the franchise grantee in question, the grantee specifically required, among others, to provide at all times sound and balanced programming; conform to the ethics of honest enterprise; and not use its station for the dissemination of deliberately false information or willful misrepresentation to the detriment of the public interest.
Our law also mandates our authorities to ensure that radio, television or cable television broadcasting entities do not manifestly favor or oppose any candidate or political party. Moreover, our laws also require all members of media, television, radio or print to scrupulously report and interpret the news, taking care not to suppress essential facts nor to distort the truth.
It is not often that Congress has the opportunity to discuss legislative franchises of broadcasting entities of this scope and magnitude. This may be an opportunity to examine closely whether or not the provisions we introduced in our franchise laws are effective in imposing high degree of responsibility incumbent upon grantees of broadcast franchises.
Let us take this opportunity to ensure that legislative franchises we grant through the laws we enact are geared toward the protection of public interest and are not used to mislead or misinform the public.
Duterte’s complaint about ABS-CBN malpractices
Marahil po alam ng karamihan ang mga hinaing ng ating Pangulo not against ABS-CBN or its people but against some practices of the network that appear to be improper and done with ill intent.
Ngayon po ay public knowledge na ito.
Noong taong 2016, sa kasagsagan po ng election season ay hindi po naere ang ilang ads ng ating Pangulo. Isa po iyan. [referring to a picture on the screen]
Alam po din ng karamihan ang tungkol sa isang video, a video which has obviously meant to malign the then presidential candidate, Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, for the purpose of destroying his reputation and turning the tide against his overwhelming popularity that time.
Paano po ito naging political ad? Are you promoting a candidate here or are you destroying a candidate? Gusto ko lang malaman ano ba ang priority ng network? Ano ba ang mas importante sa inyo, black propaganda or political ads? But in this case, airing the black propaganda video appeared to be more important than earning income from airing legitimate ads that have already been paid for.
The non- airing of ads already paid for and the subsequent airing of ads for the purpose of maligning a person display an intent to oppose a particular candidate. Sino ba ang gumawa nito? Sino ba ang nagbayad para dito? Bakit ni-refund ang already paid ads ni then Mayor Duterte?
Kindly show the check. It was addressed to me and then refund to Rodrigo Duterte.
Hindi na po tinanggap ni Pangulong Duterte iyong refund kasi tapos na po ang election. What if natalo siya noong election dahil sa isang paninirang binayaran ng isang—ambot. Alam ninyo na sinong nagbayad, nakalagay naman doon sa baba. Pero pinabayaan ng network na maiere ang paninirang ito. This is clearly black propaganda. Sino ang pumayag na iere ito? Bakit ninyo pinayagan?
Bakit kinailangan pa ng TRO para mahinto ang pag-ere nito? The RTC which granted the TRO even pointed out that the propaganda video shows minors being used in black propaganda. Thus, as pointed out by the court, the ad must be suppressed at once as repeated broadcasting of the same will be irreparably inimical to the children’s welfare and interest.
So I would like to correct my fellow colleagues in this chamber. Hindi mababaw ang rason ng Pangulo sa kanyang grievances against the network. Nasaktan ang Presidente, nababoy ang Presidente. Hindi vindictive ang Pangulo.
But it is clear that someone went overboard in trying to malign him. Nakalagay sa Fair Elections Act, “All members of media, television, radio or print shall scrupulously report and interpret the news taking care not to suppress essential facts nor to distort the truth by omission or improper emphasis. They shall recognize the duty to air the other side and the duty to correct substantive errors promptly.”
Remember, in election campaign, especially in a presidential campaign, there is no tomorrow. Every second matters. Isa lang ang mananalo kaya malaking bagay ang makapag-ere ng mga ads. Napaka-unfair naman kung inere iyong sa kalaban mo na alam naman natin na black propaganda. Inuna pa iyong black propaganda ng kalaban mo kaysa iere iyong sa iyo na bayad na.
ABS-CBN gave preference to black propaganda
So to summarize my point, nawalan ng mahalagang oras sa kampanya ang isang kandidato dahil mas pinili na iere ang black propaganda for a slot that could have been used by ads that have already been paid for. It is unfair to allow negative ad a week before the election and then not to approve legitimate ads for then presidential candidate Mayor Duterte. It says so in the Fair Elections Act. In fact, iyong pagiging unfair na ito ay ni-recognize ng korte kaya nga ginrant (grant) po ng RTC ang TRO.
That is why for me, this is very troublesome. Media networks are supposed to be neutral and impartial. But if this is the case, if some media networks and some political elites and economic elites can get together and destroy the candidacy of one candidate, tama po ang Pangulo na labanan ang mga elitista at oligarkiya na kasalukuyang naghahari sa ating bansa.
Hindi ba, sabi ninyo po, “In the service of the Filipino nation”? Ganoon din po ako, serbisyo sa Pilipino. So unahin natin ang interes ng Pilipino. Trabaho ko po, my job as a legislator, is to vote according to my conscience. And my conscience is with the Filipino people. Anong kasiguraduhang hindi na po ito mauulit kung nagawa ito sa kandidato na mayor sa probinsiya ng Davao? Paano pa kaya sa isang ordinaryong Pilipino at sa ordinaryong mamamayan na takot makipaglaban? Ano pa kaya ang pwedeng magawa ninyo sa isang ordinaryong empleyado lamang? Paano pa kaya kung ordinaryong Pilipino lamang?
Sa totoo lang, maraming tumatangkilik sa inyong programa. Ako rin po, tumatangkilik din po ako sa inyong programa, mula noon hanggang ngayon. Ako nama’y naniniwala sana sa inyong, “In the service of the Filipino,” kaya dapat unahin natin ang interes at pagserbisyo sa bawat Pilipino. Wala pong hinihingi si Pangulo noon pa man, ni hindi nga po iyan nakikipag-usap sa mga media. Fair reporting, that is all the President wants. Ano lang po ang totoo, nothing more, nothing less.
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