MANILA, Philippines — House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano has expressed openness to directly tackle the issue of granting a 25-year franchise—instead of an interim franchise—to ABS-CBN as long as other priority bills are not set aside.
Cayetano made the remark after some members of the lower chamber asked why they could not just take up ABS-CBN’s bid for a 25-year franchise after the second reading approval of House Bill No 6732—which grants ABS-CBN a provisional franchise to operate until October 31, 2020—was recalled for further interpellations and amendments.
“Tomorrow), if a big majority of Congress wants to give the provisional franchise and to schedule the hearings at a more appropriate time, then that could possibly win in the voting,” Cayetano said in an interview with TV Patrol on Monday night.
“Pero kung magkakaroon ng mas maraming myembro na nagsasabing mag-hearing na lang tayo diretsuhan na, I can accede to that for as long as hindi makalimutan at i-prioritize din ang pag-uusap sa lives and livelihood—yung stimulus, Bayanihan 2 at other na mga batas na kailangan na kailangan natin ngayon,” the House Speaker added.
(But if there are more members who want to directly hear the 25-year franchise issue, then I can accede to that for as long as we will not forget and we will still prioritize measures concerning lives and livelihood such as the stimulus package, Bayanihan 2, and other measures that we need right now.)
Whatever the decision of the members of the House will be, Cayetano said he wants to make sure that there is fairness and that due process is observed.
“May mga nagsasabi ngayon at hindi ko alam kung sino mas marami sa kongresista na dapat diretso na tayo sa hearing at doon sa hearing 25 years na ‘yung pag-usapan,” Cayetano said.
(There are lawmakers—and I don’t know which side is the majority—that we should directly tackle the 25-year franchise issue.)
“So may mga legal, may mga political, may mga moral arguments tong mga to so pinapakinggan natin sila ngayon (There are legal, political, and moral arguments so we need to listen to them),” he added.
House Bill No. 6732 grants ABS-CBN a provisional franchise to “construct, install, operate and maintain radio and television broadcasting stations” in the country until October 31, 2020 “unless sooner revoked or cancelled.”
The bill was supposedly filed to allow ABS-CBN to broadcast again while giving the lower chamber time to tackle the network’s bid for a 25-year franchise.
To recall, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) ordered ABS-CBN to stop its broadcast operations on May 5 after the network’s franchise expired on May 4.
Cayetano said he wants a decision made on the ABS-CBN provisional franchise bill on or before Wednesday.
“I don’t want to go beyond tomorrow (Tuesday) hopefully. At worst case, Wednesday. Why? Because first, may COVID-19 eh. Kailangan nating tutukan talaga ang pangangailangan ng tao (There’s a COVID-19 crisis, we need to focus on the needs of the public),” Cayetano said.
“Number 2, tinitingnan ko yung calendar (We are looking at the calendar). Kung papaboran ‘tong bill na to (If we will approve this bill), we only have 2 weeks more after Wednesday to pass it, because we have to give the Senate a week and a half,” the House Speaker added.
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