‘Conscience’ vote will prevail in ABS-CBN franchise decision- Speaker Cayetano

Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano announced that he would not influence his congressional colleagues in making the franchise renewal decision.

In a press conference on Monday, Cayetano reaffirmed that the House joint committee hearings on the issue were fair and transparent.

Cayetano, therefore, chose not to speak on Monday’s hearing, which discussed ABS-CBN’s alleged inaccuracy in reporting despite admitting that he also had problems with network coverage of the 2016 elections.

“So, I don’t want to sway members of Congress one way or the other. ‘Yung conscience ay napakaimportante sa boot [conscience is very important in voting],” he said.

“I cannot speak for the parties, kasi mag-uusap-usap din sila, but from the start, we’ve been urging a conscience vote. From the start we’ve been saying na kung ikaw ay pro, open mo ‘yung mind mo dun sa mga umaangal. Kung ikaw ay isa umaangal, open your mind sa sagot nung management,” he explained.

(I cannot speak for the parties, because they would also discuss, but from the start, we’ve been urging a conscience vote. From the beginning, we’ve been saying that if you’re a pro, you open your mind to the anti. If you are the one opposing, open your mind to the management’s answer.)

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At a hearing on Monday, House said good government committee chairman Rep. Jonathan Sy-Alvarado, Cayetano just filed a statement on alleged biased reporting by in the last 2016 elections.

Cayetano, whose President Rodrigo Duterte’s running-mate in 2016, earlier said he also experienced the “unfair airtime” of during the campaign period.

According to Cayetano, the issue of the franchise has become “so divisive,” and it is attracting attention from more critical issues such as discussing measures to address the COVID-19 crisis.

He would just leave it to the public to decide whether the hearing of the Chamber is fair and unobtrusive.

“But fairness is really a product of an open mind and allowing both sides to speak,” said the House Speaker.

Committee members are expected to vote this week on whether or not ABS-CBN would be granted a new 25-year franchise.

Whatever the decision of the joint committee, it would be sent to the plenary of the assembly. It is where all legislators would vote on whether to approve or reverse such a decision.