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Cayetano denies groups threatening solons to influence vote on ABS-CBN franchise


Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Wednesday dispelled claims that certain groups being linked to some religious organizations as well as congressional leaders are trying to threaten and intimidate lawmakers in an attempt to influence their votes on the ABS-CBN franchise issue.

In a statement, Cayetano said these claims are "completely false" and branded them as "an unproductive exercise in trying to manipulate the vote to favor a particular decision."

"It is these clumsy attempts at mind conditioning that clearly pose a threat to the fairness and impartiality of the committee," he said.

"By trying to poison the well of public opinion, those spreading this propaganda are trying to blackmail Congress into acceding to their demands," he added.

The House Committees on Legislative Franchises and on Good Government and Public Accountability have wrapped up their deliberations on the ABS-CBN franchise issue on Monday after 12 lengthy hearings.

The joint panels are set to hold another hearing on Thursday where lawmakers will give a summation of the issues discussed.

However, no schedule on the voting to whether or not grant ABS-CBN another 25-year franchise has so far been announced.

Cayetano had assured that the committee hearings on the ABS-CBN franchise issue would be comprehensive, transparent, and fair.

"The House leadership would like to reiterate that each vote must and will be based on the appreciation of the facts as they have been presented by both sides during these exhaustive proceedings, as well as the application of the relevant laws and public policy," Cayetano said.

"We advise all sides to continue to advocate, but never to engage in black propaganda and fake news," he added.

Cayetano earlier said that he does not want to influence lawmakers on how they will decide on the ABS-CBN franchise issue as he is promoting a "conscience" vote on the matter.

He opted not to personally testify on Monday's hearing, which tackles the alleged biased reportage of ABS-CBN, even as he himself has an issue with the supposed unfair coverage of the network during the 2016 elections, so as not to influence the parties involved.

"So, I don’t want to sway members of Congress one way or the other. ‘Yung conscience ay napakaimportante sa boto," Cayetano said.

"I cannot speak for the parties, kasi mag-uusap-usap din sila, but from the start, we’ve been urging a conscience vote. From the start we’ve been saying na kung ikaw ay pro, open mo ‘yung mind mo dun sa mga umaangal. Kung ikaw ay isa umaangal, open your mind sa sagot nung management," he added. —LDF, GMA News