On 10 July 2020, the Committee on Legislative Franchises of the House of Representatives of Congress voted against renewing the legislative franchise of the ABS-CBN broadcast empire. The network’s last franchise expired on 4 May 2020.
One of the committee members who decided to inhibit himself from taking part in the voting was Representative Alfred Vargas of the fifth district of Quezon City. Vargas cited a conflict of interest on his part, considering that he had an ongoing contract with ABS-CBN. Delicadeza, Vargas said, demands that he inhibit himself from casting a vote in the renewal of the ABS-CBN franchise.
People who still recognize the importance of delicadeza, or basic propriety, said Vargas did what was right and proper under the circumstances. For that, Vargas deserves the title “honorable” affixed to his name.
A commentary in the 12 August 2020 issue of this newspaper also noted with approval the delicadeza exhibited by Vargas.
Antique Representative Loren Legarda also chose to inhibit herself from taking part in the vote because of delicadeza. Like Vargas, Legarda cited a conflict of interest, considering that she has a program on ABS-CBN.
Several netizens who support ABS-CBN seem not to understand what “inhibit” means. They think it is the same as “abstain.”
To inhibit oneself from voting on an issue means a refusal to vote because of ethical considerations. In the case of Vargas, he inhibited on the ground of conflict of interest, which is certainly an ethical concern.
On the other hand, to abstain during a voting means a refusal to vote for reasons outside of ethical considerations. A person abstains from voting usually because he does not approve of any of the available choices, or is simply disinterested in the proceedings.
Sadly, many pro-ABS-CBN netizens could not care less about the difference between inhibition and abstention and went on to bully Vargas in the social media.
Just recently, the anti-Vargas online bullying has been renewed with fervor now that Vargas is the producer of and lead actor in the film Tagpuan, an entry in this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival. It’s obvious that Vargas’ bashers intend to discredit the film as widely as possible in the hope that it flops in the film festival.
Fortunately, there are many who can see through the bashers’ charade and have expressed their support for Vargas, whose only fault is his having observed delicadeza in the ABS-CBN franchise renewal proceedings.
In contrast to Vargas, two members of the House of Representatives demonstrated their disregard for delicadeza in the vote taken on the ABS-CBN franchise renewal. Laguna Representative Mirasol “Sol” Aragones and Batangas Representative Vilma Santos-Recto voted in favor of the renewal of the ABS-CBN franchise despite conflict of interest on their part.
Aragones was a broadcast journalist at ABS-CBN, and her exposure in the news media helped in her election. Santos-Recto has business ties with ABS-CBN, which regularly broadcasts reruns of her old movies through network affiliates.
Two other representatives who are not members of the House Committee on Legislative Franchises also have no regard for delicadeza. In violation of the House rules, they called for a plenary vote in the hope to overturn the decision of the committee. Even before the committee voted not to renew the network’s franchise, the two solons were already rallying for ABS-CBN.
One is Buhay partylist Representative Joselito Atienza, whose son is a talent in ABS-CBN. The other is Parañaque City Representative Joy Myra Tambunting, who used to work as a producer at ABS-CBN.
While the House committee was deliberating on the franchise issue, Senators Francis Pangilinan, Ralph Recto, Grace Poe and Juan Edgardo Angara openly rooted for a franchise renewal, despite their business interests with ABS-CBN.
Pangilinan is married to Sharon Cuneta, and Recto is married to Vilma Santos-Recto. Cuneta and Santos-Recto have commercial ties with ABS-CBN.
Poe’s family has business contracts with ABS-CBN. Angara’s wife Elvira “Tootsy” Echauz is an executive also at ABS-CBN.
Credit should be given to Vargas, because credit is due him for observing delicadeza.