Go tells senators on ABS-CBN franchise: 'Vote according to your conscience'
MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go urged his fellow lawmakers to just “vote according to your conscience” on the franchise renewal of ABS-CBN with the best interest of the Filipino in mind
“Once it reaches our office here in the Senate, I will decide,” Go said in an ambush interview on Wednesday. “Nasabi ko na ‘yan [I already said that]. Vote according to your conscience.”
ABS-CBN currently faces an uncertain future as its authority to broadcast was put in question after Solicitor General Jose Calida filed in the Supreme Court a quo warranto petition against it, saying that it committed two grave violations of its franchise.
As for the inquiry being pushed in the Senate on the network’s franchise renewal, Go mentioned that he would participate, saying: “Ito namang pagdinig, maaaring in aid of legislation. Marami silang gustong pakinggan. Maybe that’s the proper forum na mapakinggan both sides. Pakinggan natin sino gusto magsalita, sino gusto magreklamo. I might also ask some questions.”
[This hearing may be in aid of legislation. They want to hear a lot of people. Maybe that’s the proper forum for hearing both sides. Let’s listen to whoever wants to speak, whoever wants to complain. I might also ask some questions.]
Go stressed, however, that any legislative action regarding franchise bills must emanate from the House of Representatives, according to the law.
“If the Senate decides to start the discussions to look into compliance of ABS-CBN with their existing franchise… or to consider possible extension, I will participate to clear any pressing issues and I can assure the public that I will be fair and impartial,” he added.
Go also said that it would be up to the House to decide how it would act on the pending franchise bill.
“Franchise renewal, it will emanate from the lower house. So dapat na rin nilang i-tackle ito. Sa congressmen: Just vote according to your conscience. Hopefully, it is for the interest of the Filipino people,” he said.
“Mas lalo natin pinapatagal, mas lalong umiinit ang isyu. Pag usapan niyo. Ito naman ang proseso. Pag-usapan niyo. Then papadala dito sa Senado — kung pumasa sa House. Then the President will decide,” Go added.
[The longer we delay, the more heated the issue becomes. Talk about it. That’s the process. Talk about it. Then send it here to the Senate — if it passes the House. Then the President will decide.]
Asked if the Senate has enough time to conduct such inquiry given that the network’s franchise is set to expire on March 31, Go responded: “I cannot answer that because malapit naman rin po [it’s so near]…”
“It is a legal question again kung pwede ba silang mag-operate pagkatapos ng kanilang franchise expiration,” he added. “Yun ang mga katanungan na legal issues na dapat sagutin ng National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) or ng Department of Justice (DOJ).”
[It is a legal question again if they can operate after the franchise expiration. The legal issues should be answered by the NTC or the DOJ.]
As for the provisional authority being pushed to allow ABS-CBN to operate beyond the expiry date of its franchise, Go said: “Usually, kasi kapag dinidinig pa ‘yung franchise renewal ay hinahayaan na lang po nila na mag-continue sa pag-operate.”
[Usually, while the franchise renewal is being discussed, they just let the company continue operating.]
“Itong maraming questions, dapat sagutin ito ng DOJ para malinawan po ang lahat. And maybe, ‘yung hearing po ng Senado, mapakinggan natin yung DOJ, mapakinggan din natin ang NTC,” he went on.
[These many question should be answered by the DOJ so that everything will be clarified. And maybe at the Senate hearing, let’s listen to the DOJ and let’s listen to the NTC.]
Go also said that Calida might also be invited to attend and speak in the hearing.
Meanwhile, Go questioned the joint resolution filed by Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon seeking to extend the franchise of ABS-CBN up to the end of 2022.
“Bakit joint resolution? Bakit hindi na lang natin aprubahan o disapubahan [ang renewal ng franchise]? Bakit Dec. 31, 2022? Meron bang pulitika dito?” he said.
[Why a joint resolution? Why don’t we just approve or disapprove the renewal of the franchise? Why Dec. 31, 2022? Is there politics involved here?]
Ending the interview, Go assured the public that President Rodrigo Duterte would always be fair and balanced with his judgments.
Asked about his conscience vote, he said: “My conscience is with our Filipino people, the interest of the Filipino people.
He also said that the action of the executive branch in case the franchise of ABS-CBN lapses should be fair and impartial as well.