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Bill renewing franchise of ABS-CBN refiled in House

Rep. Abante as minority leader seen to 'uphold checks and balance' in House

The plenary hall of the House of Representatives. (Photo from the Philippine Daily Inquirer)

MANILA, Philippines — Nueva Ecija 2nd District Rep. Micaela Violago has refiled in the 18th Congress a bill renewing ABS-CBN Corp.’s franchise, which will expire on March 30, 2020.

Violago filed House Bill No. 676, which seeks to renew the radio-television network’s franchise for another 25 years, last July 1, but a copy of her bill was sent to media on Tuesday night.

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The 17th Congress version of the proposed law remained has been pending at the House Committee on Legislative Franchises since Nov. 16, 2016. The panel did not act on the bill until that Congress adjourned sine die.

READ: Arroyo on ABS-CBN franchise: ‘Our sessions are over’

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“In acknowledgment of ABS-CBN’s accomplishments… the immediate renewal of its original franchise which expires on March 30, 2020, is recommended to ensure the uninterrupted and improved delivery of its services to the Filipino people,” Violago said in her explanatory note in the bill.

President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly launched threats against media outfits critical of his administration l— like the Lopez-owned ABS-CBN, the broadsheet Philippine Daily Inquirer, and online news site Rappler.

He even threatened to block the franchise renewal of ABS-CBN, accusing the network of estafa for allegedly not providing him the airtime he had paid for.

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READ: Duterte threatens to block franchise of ABS-CBN

Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, meanwhile, said he believed the President would no longer veto the franchise renewal of ABS-CBN once approved by Congress.

“Sa palagay ko naman kapag pumasa na sa Kongreso, okay na — kapag pumasa sa Kongreso — kasi nasa Kongreso pa eh nasa kanila ang bola sa ngayon. ‘Yun ang palagay ko,” he said in an interview with radio dzBB, Monday.

[I think once it passes Congress, it’s going be OK — if it passes Congress — because it’s still with Congress. The ball is in their court now. That’s what I think.]

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READ: Andanar: Duterte won’t veto ABS-CBN new franchise if it hurdles Congress

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