(July 15, 2020) – After lawmakers denied the country’s largest broadcast media network its license to operate, a legislator has proposed to take away the frequencies assigned to ABS-CBN and use it for online learning and COVID-19 awareness.
Camarines Sur Representative Luis Raymund Villafuerte has filed a House Resolution recommending “the temporary use by the government of ABS-CBN’s former television and radio frequencies for effective distance learning, instruction, training and other useful purposes to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 education in the Philippines.”
The resolution was filed only four days after 70 lawmakers, who are members of the lower house committee on legislative franchise voted overwhelmingly to deny the network a renewed franchise. Villafuerte was among those who voted to keep ABS-CBN off the air.
Villafuerte, a deputy speaker, has cited the ABS-CBN’s frequencies could be used for alternative distance learning as classes are set to start on August 24.
He said the radio frequencies “may also be used for information on COVID-19 prevention and control, risk-reduction and preparedness.”
Education Secretary Leonor Briones said around 20 million students have already registered, but expect more to follow for the last day of enrollment on Thursday.
Concerns have been raised with the public’s limited access to the internet. But the Department of Education said they would be using a mix of online, television, radio, and kits for distance learning.
“Nakikipag-coordinate kami sa PCOO para magamit ang kanilang TV and radio facilities,” Briones said in a virtual pre-SONA forum on Wednesday, “Kung wala talagang platform, nandyan naman ang printed modular materials na idedeliver ng schools sa tulong ng LGU. Hindi pinipilit ang mga bata na mag online. Maraming ibang paraan.”
ABS-CBN has been off the air since early May, after the National Telecommunications Commission ordered them to cease broadcasting when their franchise expired.
Last week, some lawmakers voted not to renew their franchise for 25 more years, while only 11 were in support of the network. (Katrina Elaine Alba/MM)
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