In this file photo from July 2017, Duterte gives his State of the Nation Address at the Batasan Pambansa complex in Quezon City.
File photo
Lawmakers urge House panel to act on ABS-CBN franchise
( - January 6, 2020 - 3:10pm

MANILA, Philippines — Lawmakers called on the House committee on legislative franchises to “report without delay” for plenary action a consolidation of eight pending bills seeking the renewal of ABS-CBN Corp’s franchise.

Rep. Edcel Lagman (Albay) led the group of 11 lawmakers in filing Resolution 639, pushing the panel to act on the media company’s franchise, which expires on March 30, 2020.

“All of these bills have not been acted upon by the committee on legislative franchises and no single hearing has been held on these bills before Congress went on Christmas recess possibly due to President Rodrigo Duterte's objection to subject renewal,” the resolution read.

Congress only has 24 regular session days from its resumption on January 20 to its Lenten adjournment from April 14 to May 3.

Among the lawmakers who introduced the resolution were Reps. Micaela Violago (Nueva Ecija), Joy Myra Tambunting (Parañaque), Johnny Pimentel (Surigao del Sur), Doy Leachon (Oriental Mindoro), Jocelyn Limkaichong (Negros Oriental), Emmanuel Billiones (Capiz), Kit Belmonte (Quezon City), France Castro (ACT-Teachers), Carlos Zarate (Bayan Muna), Eufemia Cullamat (Bayan Muna).

In a rare instance, administration allies and four deputy speakers of the administration-dominated House have filed bills seeking renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise.

ABS-CBN’s current franchise was granted a term of 25 years under Republic Act 7966, approved on March 30, 1995.

A congressional franchise bill needs to be approved by the House of Representatives before it is transmitted to the Senate. The version of the proposed bill approved by both chambers will still need the president’s approval.

Duterte, however, has repeatedly criticized the broadcasting network and stated that he is determined to block the renewal of its franchise.

He also said the Lopez-owned company should just be sold as he vowed to give its owners an episode they will not forget. — Gaea Katreena Cabico

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