Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano

MANILA – Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Wednesday dismissed rumors that certain religious groups and congressional leaders are resorting to threats and intimidation to influence the voting on the franchise application of media giant ABS-CBN.

Cayetano made the statement as the House committees on legislative franchises and good government and public accountability are set to wrap up deliberations on ABS-CBN’s bid for a 25-year franchise this week.

“As the committee hearing [on] the franchise of ABS-CBN approaches the day where its members have to decide on the fate of the network, the House leadership would like to reiterate that each vote must and will be based on the appreciation of the facts as they have been presented by both sides during these exhaustive proceedings, as well as the application of the relevant laws and public policy,” he said.

“Rumors of threat and intimidation coming from certain groups, even linking it with specific religious organizations, and congressional leaders are completely false and is an unproductive exercise in trying to manipulate the vote to favor a particular decision,” he added.

He said these “clumsy attempts at mind conditioning” clearly pose a threat to the fairness and impartiality of the House committees.

“By trying to poison the well of public opinion, those spreading this propaganda are trying to blackmail Congress into acceding to their demands,” he said.

“We advise all sides to continue to advocate, but never to engage in black propaganda and fake news,” he added.

Cayetano noted that since the start of the proceedings, the House leadership has advocated for a fair, transparent, and impartial hearings.

He has also urged colleagues to cast a “conscience vote” in line with the ABS-CBN franchise bill.

ABS-CBN, upon the directive of the National Telecommunications Communications (NTC), ceased the operations of its television and radio broadcasts on May 5 after its franchise expired on May 4.

On June 30, the NTC issued another cease and desist order, directing ABS-CBN to stop operating its digital transmission using Amcara Broadcasting Corp.’s Channel 43 and the direct-to-home satellite transmission of its cable firm, Sky Cable Corp.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque reiterated that the Palace would let Congress exercise its independence when it comes to deciding on ABS-CBN’s fate.

“Respetuhin na lang natin ang kapangyarihan ng mababang kapulungan dahil sa kanila dapat magsimula ang panukalang batas na magre-renew ng franchise sa ABS-CBN (Let’s respect the lower chamber in exercising its authority because the franchise bill of ABS-CBN will have to come from them),” Roque said. (PNA)