Filtered By: News

Villafuerte proposes temporary use of ABS-CBN's former frequencies for alternative distance learning modes

House Deputy Speaker Luis Raymund Villafuerte has proposed that the government temporarily use ABS-CBN's former television and radio frequencies to provide alternative distance learning modalities to students for the upcoming school year.

Villafuerte has filed House Resolution 1044, wherein he pointed out that "exhausting all possible delivery modes such as the use of untapped television and radio frequencies as those vacated by ABS-CBN is important in keeping students engaged," especially amid the ongoing threat of COVID-19.

"The unused frequencies may also be used for information on COVID-19 prevention and control, risk reduction, and preparedness," he said.

Education Secretary Leonor Briones Briones earlier said the Department of Education has been preparing for the implementation of blended learning as the department maintained its commitment “to make education available and thriving, even in the most difficult time.”

She reiterated that no face-to-face classes will be conducted until a vaccine against COVID-19 is made available, in compliance with the directive of President Rodrigo Duterte.

“Radio, television, online and modular learning – which are pre-existing methods and were already used for decades – are being prepared and updated for this year. At the same time, teachers are being trained on utilizing newer platforms and innovative tools to aid their professional development,” she said.

Villafuerte said the former frequencies used by ABS-CBN will be useful in areas that have not been reached by digital infrastructure, like some communities in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

A total of 70 members of the House franchise committee voted to adopt the resolution of the technical working group (TWG) it created recommending the denial of ABS-CBN's franchise application. Only 11 voted against it.

Based on the TWG report, ABS-CBN violated its old franchise, described by the panel as a privilege, because of the following reasons: its former Chairman Eugenio Lopez III was both a Filipino and American citizen, the issuance of Philippine Depositary Receipts supposedly favoring foreigners, inappropriate program content, meddling in politics, tax avoidance schemes; less than exemplary labor practices, among others.

Villafuerte is among those who voted to deny ABS-CBN's franchise application, although he admitted that making such a decision was "tough and difficult."

He said that critics were wrong in praising the 11 lawmakers who voted for the granting of the franchise and condemning the 70 others who denied it, as the latter "had been brave enough to stand by their conviction in voting against the renewal of the franchise on the strength of the findings of the Committee Report on ABS-CBN's array of violations as a TV network."

"The 70 legislators who voted against renewal had arrived at a difficult decision in upholding the Committee Report, as it was convenient and popular to just vote for renewal, given the sustained media offensive of the TV network and its allies in the media--along with members of the political opposition who had shrewdly capitalized on this issue to score pogi points in the press by foisting phony issues upon the public at the expense of President Duterte," he said.

Villafuerte urged critics to read the committee report in its entirety "before shooting from the hip--as they have been wont to do in their incessant attacks against the Duterte administration and the House leadership."

ABS-CBN went off air on May 5 after the National Telecommunications Commission issued a cease and desist order against the network when its franchise expired the day before.—AOL, GMA News