REP. Rodante Marcoleta, who has allegedly been blocking the renewal of the franchise of ABSCBN, is under fire after he denied being an author of franchise bills.
Marcoleta, of Sagip Party, said in a joint hearing of the House of Representatives’ legislative franchises and good government committees that he “never authored any franchise bill because I represent the urban poor who are incapable of owning TV and radio stations”.
Marcoleta issued the denial in response to an ABS-CBN story by reporter Mike Navallo saying he did author franchise bills and that some bills exceeded 50 years, which Marcoleta said, in the case of ABS-CBN, should not be allowed because it is against the constitution.
House documents, however, allegedly showed that he had been a principal author of franchise bills including that of GMA7’s whose franchise already exceeds 50 years.
Marcoleta had argued that ABS-CBN, the country’s top broadcaster, cannot get a new franchise because the Constitution purportedly limits a media organization from possessing a franchise to just 50 years. ABS-CBN has had its franchise for at least 53 years, he said.
But fellow lawmakers have pointed out that Congress can, in fact, give a 50-year franchise and extend it for another 50 years.
“It is not cumulative,” said Cagayan de Oro Representative Rufus Rodriguez.
Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate said Marcoleta, if he was true to his logic, should have opposed the granting of legislative franchises to GMA-7 and the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. Both companies had been operating for more than 50 years, he said.
Navallo, citing Congress’ own records, reported that Marcoleta himself was listed as a principal author of a law granting GMA-7 a fresh 25-year franchise.
The same documents showed Marcoleta was also a principal author of franchise bills allowing four telecom companies to continue operating.
Marcoleta also complained in the same hearing that Navallo denied him the chance to air his side.
But Navallo has posted screenshots of his text messages that showed he did approach Marcoleta for comments.
Marcoleta instead asked him to organize and host a “virtual press conference” with other reporters where he promised to give his response. Navallo replied that that was not his job.