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Cayetano says he’s ‘willing’ to ask House members to help ABS-CBN employees

Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said he is "willing" to ask members of the House of Representatives to help artists, employees, and talents of ABS-CBN to form a cooperative which, according to the suggestion of another lawmaker, could manage the operations of the network in the future.

In a press conference in Taguig City on Monday, Cayetano said that while it may be difficult to form a cooperative among ABS-CBN employees, it is not at all impossible.

"I'm willing to assign people in Congress and ask some chairmen to help kung interesado talaga mga artista at empleyado ng ABS-CBN," he said.

"Pero naintindihan ko, hindi ito pwedeng pag-usapan in public kasi kapag sinabi we support para nilang iniiwan yung network. Kapag sinabing hindi, parang sinabi it's about the Lopezes, not about yung trabaho ng mga tao," he added.

It was Anakalusugan party-list Representative Mike Defensor who earlier suggested that ABS-CBN employees take over the management of the network after the House Committee on Legislative Franchises denied its franchise application.

"Sa aking palagay, kung sila ay magkakaisa at ipepetisyon ang government, tutulungan ko sila but it should not be the ABS-CBN Corporation dahil yun yung natapos na yung prangkisa," Defensor said.

Deputy Speaker Luis Raymund Villafuerte, meanwhile, suggested that the Lopez family sell the corporation, saying that it would save the employees from job loss or risk remaining shut even after the Duterte administration.

Cayetano, an ally of President Rodrigo Duterte and his losing running mate in the 2016 elections, has claimed that ABS-CBN took sides during the election and gave "unfair airtime" to other candidates.

He said that journalists will be more independent in their reportage and will not be "dictated upon" if they are working for a cooperative instead of a traditional corporation, a sole proprietorship, or a family-owned corporation.

"Kung yung mga broadcasters sila mismo may-ari at walang magdidikta sa kanila kung sino kakampihan sa eleksyon, wala silang problema sa tax, walang problema," he said.

"We pass broadcast franchises every month or every other month sa Congress, walang nagiging problema ito basta nga yung mga problemang nakita doon sa ABS-CBN ay hindi present," he added.

Cayetano also said he recognizes the difficult situation of performing artists nowadays, especially as the country is still grappling with COVID-19.

He said that advertisers would rather spend money on aid rather than on commercials, so there is less opportunity for artists. It is also difficult to shoot TV shows and movies now due to the COVID-19 situation, he added.

"So that's why I really believe performing artists at lahat ng creatives sa bansa deserve to have a voice in the Cabinet. Ang laki-laki ng potential talaga ng sining sa Pilipinas," he said.

"Personally I’d really like to have a Department of Arts and Culture, and magfo-focus ito sa performing arts and also marketing artwork ng mga Pilipino around the world. Yes, may mga mawawalan ng trabaho sa ABS-CBN, pero walang dahilan na hindi magkaroon ng golden age of Philippine cinema of Philippine performing arts," he added.

In the end, Cayetano said the issue on the ABS-CBN franchise is a complex and emotional one, as there are "real people who are facing real problems at this point in time."

"But we are willing to be part of the solution sa mga consequences ng aming mga actions," he said.

Seventy members of the House franchise committee voted to adopt the resolution of the technical working group it created recommending the denial of ABS-CBN's franchise application.

The decision has placed the employment of the network's 11,000 employees at risk. Last week, ABS-CBN said that it will begin downscaling operations and laying off workers by the end of August.

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