Marcoleta refutes ABS-CBN News reports: ‘I did not author media franchise bills’

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MANILA — SAGIP Party-list Rep. Rodante Marcoleta denied Monday he authored bills granting franchises to media companies, refuting earlier reports by ABS-CBN News, which were all based on legislative records.

During the continuation of the joint hearing of the House legislative franchises and good government panels for ABS-CBN's application for a fresh broadcast franchise, Marcoleta brought up news reports of ABS-CBN News reporter Mike Navallo.

On June 3, Navallo reported that Marcoleta "authored bills granting franchises to companies with more than 50-year franchises." In the hearings for the ABS-CBN franchise bills, the lawmaker, citing the Constitution, said a franchise can only last for 50 years.

"Pinalabas niya po na ako daw po ay nag-akda ng mga napakaraming mga prangkisa, pati daw po GMA 7. Matagal na po ako sa Kongreso, wala pa po ako ni-isang inakda na prangkisa sapagkat ang sektor ko po ay mga urban poor. Wala po silang kakayahan na mag-may-ari ng istasyon pangradyo o pangtelebisyon. So, papano po 'yun," Marcoleta said.

(He made it appear that I authored several franchise bills, even GMA-7's. I have been in Congress for a long time and I have never authored any franchise bill because I represent the urban poor sector who are incapable of owning TV and radio stations. So how can that be.)

"Ang gusto po niya kasing palabasin, Mr. Chair, ay, 'Bakit ikaw ay may-akda ka pala ng (franchise bill ng) GMA 7, hindi mo ba alam na may PDRs [Philippine Depositary Receipts] yan, hindi mo ba alam na more than 50 years na rin yan?'… Mr. Chair, hindi po ako ang may-akda," he said.

(He wants to make it appear, Mr. Chair, that, 'You authored a franchise bill for GMA 7. Don't you know it also issues PDRs? Don't you know it has been operating for more than 50 years already?… Mr. Chair, I was not an author.)

Marcoleta explained that if ever his name was listed as among the bill's authors, he attributed it to the practice in the House of Representatives where a lawmaker may move for a colleague's inclusion as co-author without the latter's knowledge.

"Hindi ko na po kontrolado 'yun," he said.

(It's beyond my control already).

Marcoleta claimed, "Pero ang sabi po nung reporter, pangunahing may-akda."

(The reporter said, principal author.)

Navallo's report referred to Marcoleta as "one of the authors of a bill renewing the franchise of Republic Broadcasting System, Inc., now known as GMA Network," and several other media entities.

On TV Patrol Monday night, Navallo explained that the documents of the bills he cited in his June 3 report were from the official website of the House of Representatives, and are therefore assumed to be truthful, these being part of "public record."

"Public record 'yan. Nasa mismong website ng Kongreso na si Rep. Marcoleta ay inilagay bilang isa sa mga principal authors," Navallo said.

(That's public record. The website of Congress states that Rep. Marcoleta is included as one of the principal authors.)

"Actually, dahil public record ito, puwede na nga natin itong i-report na hindi natin kinukuha ang kaniyang side. Pero dahil gusto nga nating mapaliwanag niya ano ang nangyari at hindi tayo maakusahan ng bias, kinuha pa rin natin ang panig niya," the reporter added.

(Actually, because it's public record, we could have just reported this without getting his side. But because we wanted him to explain what happened and for us not to be accused of being biased, we sought to get his side.)

Navallo said exposing public officials' alleged inconsistencies is part of the job of journalists, which includes fact-checking, especially because "public office is a public trust."

"Trabaho natin bilang mamamahayag na tanungin ang ating mga mambabatas kung ano ang nangyari… Alam naman natin lahat na public office is a public trust. Hindi naman siguro kalabisan na hingin natin sa ating mga hinalal na mambabatas na maging consistent sa kanilang paninindigan sa kanilang ibinobotong batas," Navallo said.

(It is our job as reporters to ask our lawmakers what happened… We all know that public office is a public trust. I think it's not too much to ask from our elected lawmakers that they be consistent in their position on the laws they voted for.)

Marcoleta said Navallo released his report a day earlier than their scheduled interview, denying him a chance to air his side.

According to Navallo, he sought Marcoleta's side as early as the day before the airing and publication of the report, but did not get a reply.

When he followed up on the day of the release of the report, Marcoleta answered with a suggestion that he organize a press conference to include other media at 10 a.m. of the following day.

Navallo told the congressman he was advised by his superiors that "we're not allowed to organize press conferences for politicians or government officials." He asked if he can coordinate instead with the congressman's staff for the proposed activity.

Navallo denied telling Marcoleta, as the latter claimed, that he was not authorized by his bosses to conduct a Zoom conference.

Navallo said ABS-CBN News remains open to get Marcoleta's side on his June 3 report.

ABS-CBN halted its broadcast operations last May 5, on orders of the National Telecommunications Commission, due to its expired franchise.

Several bills seeking to grant ABS-CBN a fresh 25-year franchise have been pending at the House of Representatives from as early as 2014. is the official news website of ABS-CBN Corp.

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