‘Be fearless but be fair’

February 26, 2020
Grace Poe

SENATOR Grace Poe called on ABS-CBN network to continue doing its job and report fairly as Congress tackles its franchise renewal.

“Kung may mali wag matakot, at kung may tama, ‘wag din naman tipirin ang pagbibigay-pugay, so balansehin, ‘yan ang dasal ko na habang nagkakaroon ng walang kasiguruhan ay manatiling patas at ‘wag matakot,” Poe said in an interview with ANC on Wednesday.

Poe reiterated the authority of Congress to grant or revoke franchises as one imbued with public interest, but which should not be used to curtail freedom of expression as in the case of broadcasting networks.

“What I believe is that we are the representatives of the people and the most important part is public interest, it’s imbibed with public interest not personal interests, so I don’t think Congress should really use the franchise as a weapon to get what they want,” she said.

The Senate Committee on Public Services, headed by Poe, conducted a hearing on the bill seeking the renewal of franchise of ABS-CBN, which will expire on May 4 this year.

Poe expressed support for the concurrent resolution to be filed by Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon for the National Telecommunication Commission to allow ABS-CBN to broadcast past the expiry of its franchise.
Poe is also backing the joint resolution earlier filed by Drilon to extend the network’s franchise until 2022, until Congress has approved the pending bills for its renewal.

“I think that’s a fair cure of the Senate, to file a concurrent resolution. …The law should be flexible enough to meet the demands of democracy, laws should not hinder progress,” she said.
Poe said the issue about the ABS-CBN franchise renewal could have consequences on press freedom as it sends a “chilling effect” on networks.

“It could have consequences to the freedom of the press issue, it doesn’t ban freedom of speech technically but if you were an owner or employee, ‘tingnan mo yung nangyari sa ABS-CBN, wag nating gawin yan kasi baka tayo masisante, so there’s chilling effect,” she said.

“I think it’s also very important to know that we are doing this not for anybody’s interest, except the public,” she said.