Eric Yap’s P200-million bribe claim questioned as House vote on ABS-CBN franchise nears

July 9, 2020 - 4:28 PM
Eric Yap
Rep. Eric Yap (ACT-CIS) talks to people in this photo uploaded on his Facebook page on Sept. 26, 2019. (Photo from Cong. Eric Go Yap via Facebook)

Rep. Eric Yap (ACT-CIS party-list) claimed that an alleged representative of embattled media giant ABS-CBN offered to bribe him P200 million to vote in favor of their franchise renewal as the House expects to wrap up its hearings on Thursday.

Reports note that the lawmaker claimed he received a call two weeks ago from a supposed emissary of the network who offered to give him the said amount in exchange for his vote to renew ABS-CBN’s franchise.

Yap further claimed that he didn’t divulge it to the media before since he felt it would be unfair to the network as he was not sure whether the caller was a supposed emissary at all.

“My answer was simple, my principles and vote are not for sale,” the lawmaker was quoted by reports as saying.

ABS-CBN immediately denied his claims and said that it has “answered all the issues raised in the past 12 hearings.”

“ABS-CBN did not send an emissary to bribe any lawmaker to vote in favor of our franchise application. We believe in the process and we have participated in the process. We answered all issues raised in the past 12 hearings,” the media giant said in a statement.

P200 million was also the amount that each House lawmakers were entitled to under the pork barrel system every year before the Supreme Court had declared it unconstitutional on a 2014 decision.

Meanwhile, former Kabataan party-list lawmaker Teddy Ridon chastised Yap and questioned whether anyone “will sell a third of their company” to simply pay a congressional committee.

“At Eric Yap’s price per congressman, how much is the payoff to reach the majority of legislative franchise members? P4.6 billion. Will anyone sell a third of their company just to payoff a congressional committee? Probably not. To reach a majority of all members, P30.4 billion,” he said.

“Pre, ano pinagsasabi mo?” Riddon added as he referred to Yap.

The former lawmaker’s sentiments were echoed by some ABS-CBN supporters who similarly questioned Yap’s allegations on social media.

This prompted Yap’s name to land on the top trending list of local Twitter on Thursday afternoon.

Rep. Eric Yap (ACT-CIS party-list) appears among the top trending topics on Twitter Philippines as of July 9, 2020. (Screengrab by Interaksyon)

Timeliness of allegations

A Twitter user enumerated some of the questions in relation to the allegations which include its timing.

Another Twitter user commented that the allegations looked like a “last minute demolition job” to smear the media giant’s name.

You’re bringing this up ngayong summation na at magbobotohan na soon??? At least have the decency to show proof cos right now this looks nothing but a last minute demolition job. As if everything that ensued during the hearings isn’t enough. #IbalikAngABSCBN #VoteYEStoABSCBN,” she wrote. 

Another online user demanded Yap to show “receipts” or proof to back up his allegations.

This is a serious allegation. Receipts or it never happened. They really are so desperate to take ABS-CBN down. #VoteYesToABSCBNFranchise,” the Twitter user commented. 

A project assistant of an international non-government organization questioned the credible nature of the allegations itself.

“I mean, if you’re gonna make allegations, do so smartly? Why would someone from their side approach you despite knowing how badly you’re attacking them?” the online user wrote.

Another Filipino pointed out that Yap as lawmaker could’ve “reported it to the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) or some graft commission” instead.

This was echoed by another social media user who commented that the lawmaker was “becoming a clown in Congress.”

“Eric Yap should go to the NBI and file a complaint and not announcing it to the media about an attempt to bribe him,” he said in response to the reports.

The congressional committee on legislative franchises and committee on good government and public accountability are expected to wrap up the hearings on the renewal of ABS-CBN’s legislative franchise.

Twelve hearings have since been conducted about the franchise application despite a number of issues being cleared in the Senate hearing before.

These include allegations on contractual obligations, violations of labor laws and foreign ownership, among others.

This week, the media giant’s programs and editorial guidelines were picked apart instead of supposed legal concerns directly related to the franchise.