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Defensor clarifies proposal for ABS-CBN to air only non-political shows

Anakalusugan party-list Representative Mike Defensor on Monday clarified his remark where he supposedly proposed that ABS-CBN limits its broadcast to non-political shows and drops its news and current affairs division as the House deliberates on the network's franchise issue.

During the continuation of the House joint panel hearings on the ABS-CBN franchise issue, Defensor decried the statement of ABS-CBN stated in one of its position papers, that his suggestion will "render 1,000 news personnel jobless," and it would send a "strong and terrifying message that indeed the press was being silenced.

In his June 25 interview on One News TV, Defensor said the News and Current Affairs of ABS-CBN is the one causing problems in its franchise renewal because some lawmakers are not happy with the network’s “one-sided” reports.

“Personal ko 'to. Kung ako, kunyari tanggalin mo muna iyong news and public affairs. Kasi baka ma-influence ang committee, hindi para ma-curtail ang press freedom," he said in the interview.

"Pabayaan mo iyong shows na non-political. Katulad nung reklamo nung isang kasama ko, naka-air na naman sila, tinira si ganito, tumira si ganyan, o one-sided iyong paglabas ng issue. Iyong news ang nagiging problem as of now," he added.

But on Monday's hearing, Defensor clarified that he made the remark in consideration of the request of ABS-CBN executives that lawmakers would not push for the shutdown of the network's digibox, ABS-CBN TVPlus, even with an expired franchise as this is where the network would get revenues to pay for their employees' salaries.

"Kung hindi ako nagkakamali, mga isa o dalawang beses niyo na akong pinakiusapan na kung pwede huwag isara yung digibox," he said.

"Ang sabi ko sa show na yun, sana umabot tayo sa sitwasyon na temporarily... siguro wala na muna yung sa News and Public Affairs [sic] Division not to silence the News and Public Affairs [sic] Division but to allow the digibox to continue para sa inyong pabor na makalma ko yung aking mga kasama na huwag ipasara ang digibox out of toleration nang hindi mawalan ng trabaho ang mga tao," he added.

Defensor took offense to the statement of ABS-CBN in its position paper, and urged them to watch his actual interview.

"Sabi ko wala na ngang franchise, digibox ang ginagamit, and out of toleration we're allowing it. Pero habang naghi-hearing sabi ko sana mapayagan na lang muna ang ibang shows," he said.

"Wala akong sinasabing sa pagbigay ng prangkisa niyo, huwag magkaroon ng news and public affairs. I never said that. I never said that, in allowing the digibox in the future, that you take it away. Ang sinasabi ko at that time, dahil na rin sa pakiusap niyo, sa marami nating pag-uusap dito, out of toleration, sana mapagbigyan," he added.

Sought for a reaction, ABS-CBN head of Integrated News and Current Affairs Ging Reyes said that will take note of Defensor's remark.

"We note the sentiments of Cong. Defensor. Wala naman kaming masasabi," she said.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines earlier hit Defensor on his remark in his TV interview, saying that it was an attack on the media and not on ABS-CBN only. —LDF, GMA News