MANILA – Embattled network giant ABS-CBN has allegedly dangled a whooping amount of two hundred million pesos (P200M) in exchange for a favorable vote for its franchise renewal.
This was the statement of ACT-CIS party-list Representative Eric Yap on Wednesday in what could be a vain attempt by the network to secure a favorable vote among members of the House at the close of a series of hearings on ABS-CBN’s renewal bills.
“May tumawag sa atin, nagpakilalang emisaryo ng ABS-CBN at hinihimok tayong bumoto pabor sa ABS-CBN kapalit ng P200 milyon,” the ACT-CIS party-list lawmaker said.
“Simple lang ang sagot ko, hindi for sale ang prinsipyo at boto ko.”
Yap added that he received the call from the “emissary” almost two weeks ago but he opted not to reveal the multi-million offer to the media as yet as he still needs to double-check if it was indeed an initiative from ABS-CBN.
Discuss bribe attempt
But the network, which was shuttered by the National Telecommunications Commission last May 5 upon the expiration of its franchise, quickly denied sending anybody to talk to Yap or any lawmaker and discuss the said bribe attempt.
“ABS-CBN did not send an emissary to bribe any lawmaker to vote in favor of our franchise application,” ABS-CBN said in a prepared statement.
“We believe in the process and we have participated in the process. We answered all issues raised in the past 12 hearings,” it added.
Congressman Yap is allied with President Rodrigo Duterte, who has been very vocal against ABS-CBN before over unaired political ads back in the 2016 presidential elections.
“Now, ABS-CBN, their franchise is due for renewal… But I will never also intervene. But if I had my way, I will not give it back to you,” the president was quoted as saying.
ABS-CBN president and chief executive officer (CEO) Carlo Katigbak has apologized during a senate hearing to the president who then readily accepted the apology.
ABS-CBN movie and television talents like love-teams Liza Soberano and Enrique Gil appealed to lawmakers to give the network a chance to go back on air.
“Gusto lang namin na kumatok sa puso ninyo na baka sakali na mabigyan ninyo ng chance ang ABS-CBN,” Liza said on her video on social media that was posted by Ogie Diaz, her talent manager.
And so did Enrique on the same video: “Sa lahat ng congressmen, ABS-CBN deserves a chance. Maraming-maraming salamat sa inyo.”
The stars also made an appeal to SAGIP party-list Rep. Rodante Marcoleta, who is a known anti-ABS-CBN franchise renewal advocate.
Last Monday, ABS-CBN staged a “caravan” and stormed the House to press lawmakers into giving the network to go back on air and save jobs.
The committee on legislative franchises and committee on good government and public accountability are expected to wrap up the hearings on the renewal of ABS-CBN’s legislative franchise late Thursday.
Rep. Rufus Rodriguez (Cagayan de Oro) and Rep. Carlos Zarate (Bayan Muna Party-list) will give the summation of the authors of the bills seeking to grant the broadcast giant a 25-year franchise.
However, Rep. Franz Alvarez (Palawan), chair of the House legislative franchises committee, said there is no final schedule yet for the voting on ABS-CBN’s franchise.