At the final hearing for ABS-CBN’s franchise application, the media giant was accused of “biased reporting” or the slanting and altering of information to make certain political candidates seem more attractive.
ABS-CBN also was also accused of having a biased political agenda.
Former DOH Secretary and incumbent Iloilo Representative Janette Garin blamed ABS-CBN for the Dengvaxia scare and the drop in vaccinations in general.
Fortunately, BUHAY party-list Rep. Lito Atienza said Congress is not the proper avenue for Garin to blame the media giant on their coverage of Dengvaxia when she was still the health Secretary.
“You prepare yourself for legal defense. Not in this Congress. Your cause and case have nothing to do with the ABS-CBN franchise application. If you are guilty, innocent, I’m sure they will give your day of glory but if you’re proven guilty of reckless imprudence resulting in the death of children… I hope you all rot in jail,” said Atienza.
In defense, Garin answered, “Point of order. The point of discussion [here] is the ABS-CBN franchise. I move [that] his statement be stricken off record.”
Before the hearing halted to a stop at midnight, Garin shared an audio clip containing her interview that was not aired by the network.
“I’d like to insert into the records my interview with DZMM. I said bilang Pilipino, doktor humihingi ako ng paumanhin na minsan nagtatalo mga doktor. I was asked ‘Kayo ba natatakot?’ sabi ko because we have the truth sabi ko wala kami dapat katakutan,” said Garin.
ABS-CBN CEO and president Carlo Katigbak will look into these matters as per Garin’s claims.
Aside from Garin, other issues resurfaced from some lawmakers regarding the manner ABS CBN deliver their daily news.
Deputy Speaker Rodante Marcoleta highlighted how ABS-CBN write their headlines.
“Nung pumanaw po si dating [DFA Secretary] Perfecto Yasay, ang headline niyo, ‘Ex-DFA chief Yasay, who led Duterte’s China pivot, dies.’ Lalagyan pa niyo kasi ng ewan ko bakit kailangan lagyan ng elemento,” asked Marcoleta.
ABS-CBN news chief Regina Reyes then replied, “There was no malice… that’s the fact… We go through this editorial process every day. It is our job. In headline gathering, there are times when the context is needed.”
Marcoleta stressed that ABS-CBN’s news coverage regarding him remains biased during franchise hearing proceedings.
Katigbak assured that the network is open for the lawmakers’ concerns.
“I would like to make a public commitment that any public official will be given airtime on ABS-CBN to express their side on any issue that is being raised against them,” Katigbak said.
For other lawmakers like Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate, Occidental Mindoro Rep. Josephine Ramirez-Sato, and Kabataan Rep. Sarah Elago, it is not right to tackle issues on biased reporting at the Congress as it may go against the Philippine Constitution.
Another grievance that was brought up was the matter of political advertisements. ABS-CBN’s critics claimed then presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte and vice presidential candidate Alan Peter Cayetano were not given airtime for their political ads unlike others.
This was proven false as it turned out that former presidential candidates Mar Roxas and Miriam Defensor-Santiago and vice presidential candidates Antonio Trillanes, Francis Escudero, and even Vice President Leni Robredo were also not given airtime as well.
This was because all slots for advertising were already full.
On that note, Katigbak said they are developing an online system to improve the booking of political ads.
“Assuming we’re on air during the next campaign period, we already committed to putting together an online system for the purchase of political ads so there’s full transparency as to first come first serve policy,” said Katigbak.