Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said, at the earliest, the House of Representatives could take up the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise in May, which is more than a month after the franchise expires on March 30. “When the time comes, but definitely before March 2022.
Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said, at the earliest, the House of Representatives could take up the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise in May, which is more than a month after the franchise expires on March 30.
“When the time comes, but definitely before March 2022. Possibly in May, if we have enough time and we have cooler heads and with all the issues. Worst case, after SONA [in July],” Cayetano told reporters after a mass wedding ceremony in Parañaque City on Friday.
ABS-CBN’s 25-year franchise expires on March 30. Eleven bills, regarding its renewal, are pending at the House Committee on Legislative Franchises.
Congress will have a break on March 11 for the Holy Week and will resume in May.
While he considered the issue as important, Cayetano said the House was attending to more urgent matters such as the coronavirus disease 2019 outbreak. He said the issue is not urgent since the giant media entity would still be allowed to operate until the end of the 18th Congress.
“Don’t get me wrong. The franchise of ABS-CBN is important not just to the 11,000 employees. It is important to the whole country, to our democracy. But, it is not that urgent. Why? Because it can still operate until 2022,” the speaker added.
Cayetano said the point of having franchise hearings was to reassess the network if it merits a renewal. He, however, assured that Congress would be fair in reviewing the ABS-CBN franchise.
“The only pressure is to do what is right. I am not pressured on what the President wants. I am not pressured with the media or the supporters of ABS-CBN. I am pressured that history will judge us. It will be a defining moment, not only for the 18th Congress, but also for ABS-CBN,” Cayetano said.
The speaker admitted that the network’s franchise is an issue of press freedom, but that accountability must also be sought after.
He said the House would look at all allegations against the network, including the points raised by Solicitor General Jose Calida in the quo warranto petition he filed before the Supreme Court.
By Divina Nova Joy Dela Cruz
February 15, 2020
WITH FRANZ LEWIN EMBUDO AND JAVIER JOE ISMAEL