AnaKalusugan party-list Rep. Mike Defensor asked his colleagues who supported ABS-CBN why they’re only becoming vocal about the franchise of the television network giant in the 18th Congress.
According to Defensor, the pro-ABS-CBN lawmakers had the chance to renew the franchise of the network in 2014 during the Aquino administration.
Defensor pointed out that most of the lawmakers who are now against the ABS-CBN shut down are already working in the Congress since 2014.
He also said that if the supporters of ABS-CBN believe that its franchise is an issue of press freedom, they should prioritize it during the Aquino admin.
“I think it is only fair that we ask our colleagues who were here then and who are the most vocal now—what did you do then? If you truly believe that this is an issue of press freedom, then why didn’t you speak up the way that you are doing now?” Defensor said.
“Unfortunately, those who cry foul the hardest are those who were already members of Congress when ABS-CBN first applied for their renewal. Unfair naman sa aming mga 160 members na bago pa lang sa kongreso at walang kinalaman sa mahigit na anim na taon na naka-pending ang application ng ABS-CBN,” he added.
In a Facebook post Defensor repeated his question to his colleagues.
“2014 pa nag apply- panahon ni Speaker Sonny Belmonte at Pangulong Noynoy Aquino. Dumaan pa sa dalawang Speakers, 5 taon na nakaraan. Ngayon sa 18th Congress, 160 kaming 1st termers na 10 buwan pa lang nakaupo, na budget mula Hulyo hanggang Disyembre ang unang pinagtrabahuan, ang ituturo ng matagal ng nakaupo naming mga kasamahan. Hindi naman ata makatarungan,” he said.
Defensor said that Congress should address “more important issues” instead of tackling the ABS-CBN franchise renewal.
“Congress should be tackling more important issues, instead of a private bill that has been languishing in these chambers for the past two administrations,” he said.
On May 5, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) ordered ABS-CBN to stop its operations despite the support being received by the network from the Congress.
Lawmakers including Defensor criticized Solicitor General Jose Calida for allegedly pressuring NTC to close down ABS-CBN.
“The unconstitutional meddling of the Solicitor General—to the extent that he pressured the NTC to go against the DOJ, the Senate, and their own word given under oath— is a disgrace and an affront to the entire Congress. Yet there are still those among us who choose to side with them against the rest of the membership,” he said.