Iloilo City

Iloilo City lawmaker defends ABS-CBN franchise, anti-terror law votes

Joseph B.A. Marzan
Iloilo City lawmaker defends ABS-CBN franchise, anti-terror law votes

Iloilo City lone district representative Julienne “Jam-Jam” Baronda.

Joseph B.A. Marzan/Rappler

Rep. Julienne 'Jam-Jam' Baronda explains why she rejected the renewal of the ABS-CBN franchise, and approved the anti-terror law

Iloilo City lone district representative Julienne “Jam-Jam” Baronda defended her controversial votes against the ABS-CBN franchise extension bill and for the anti-terrorism law, as she filed for her second congressional stint on Wednesday, October 6.

As one of the 70 members of the House of Representatives who voted to kill the bill which proposed to give ABS-CBN a fresh 25-year legislative franchise, her negative vote ultimately led to the displacement of thousands of the network’s workers across the country, including all 58 employees of ABS-CBN TV-10 Iloilo and MOR 91.1 Iloilo.

During committee-level deliberations, she grilled ABS-CBN executives on their marketing and sale of their box-top TV Plus device.

She had not spoken about her vote since the deliberations. But on Wednesday she defend her stand against the bill, alleging that the network did not follow the law.

Baronda, though, did not say what laws ABS-CBN did not follow. During the hearings in the House the Bureau of Internal Revenue, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and Development Bank of the Philippines cleared the broadcast giant of allegations.

She also said that she was “a Kapamilya,” mentioning being an avid viewer of the long-running series “Ang Probinsyano.”

“Our vote as members of the Committee on [Legislative] Franchises, we are not putting aside the importance of the freedom of mass media, [whether in] TV or print. There were just some things we saw during the hearing that need to be changed and straightened,” Baronda said.

Anti-terror law

Baronda also explained her stance and understanding of the Anti-Terrorism Law (Republic Act No. 11479), which she voted for in the third reading.

She was initially included as one of the authors of the bill, but pulled out her name. She said she did not know her name was among the proponents.

But she still voted for the final version of the bill on the third reading, as shown in the House’s record.

She said that people may have been misinformed about the nature of the law, adding that those suspected to be terrorists would still undergo a formal process.

Under R.A. No. 11479, classifying a person or a group as terrorists will be applied for at the Court of Appeals, based on recommendations made by the inter-agency Anti-Terrorism Council.

She added that the passage of the law was for “the protection of the majority, especially of the youth.”

“There are things where the people of the city and the whole Philippines may have been misinformed. We desire to give fair judgement to the people, but there are things where the people may also be fearful. We’re not saying that if you are [suspected], you will immediately be jailed. You will be given the opportunity, the chance to present [evidence] and you have to present it,” she said.

She did clarify that she respected the right to life, the rule of law, and that she was against killings, citing House Bill No. 5405 which she authored, institutionalizing Anti-Drug Abuse Councils in provinces, cities, municipalities, and barangays.

House records show that the HB No. 5405 has been received by the Senate on December 03, 2020, but the bill was not mentioned in the upper chamber’s website.

“We respect life and the rule of law. I myself denounce killings that are not right, which is why I passed for the institutionalization of Anti-Drug Abuse Councils,” she said.

Baronda filed her certificate of candidacy personally at the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) office in Iloilo City.

Her Team Uswag party mates filed their candidacies earlier in the day via proxy by City Administrator Melchor Tan. She said that she had to undergo a five-day quarantine after arriving from Manila.

She is running for a second term under the National Unity Party and the local Uswag Ilonggo Party. –