Lawmakers urge Cayetano: Convene House panel, tackle ABS-CBN bills
An employee of ABS-CBN works in the newsroom at the station headquarters in Manila on May 6, 2020. The shutting down of the Philippines' top broadcaster crosses a dangerous line in eroding the nation's democracy and sends a warning to those who risk angering President Rodrigo Duterte, watchdogs said.
AFP/Ted Aljibe

Lawmakers urge Cayetano: Convene House panel, tackle ABS-CBN bills

(Philstar.com) - May 12, 2020 - 11:01am

MANILA, Philippines — Lawmakers pushing for the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise asked House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano to convene the Legislative Franchise Committee to “tackle with dispatch” pending bills of the network’s franchise.

A week since ABS-CBN shut its free channel and radio operations, 14 lawmakers wrote to Cayetano on Tuesday and urged the House leader to immediately convene the House panel on legislative franchise to discuss the network’s franchise.

Cayetano issued a lengthy statement last Friday, vowing a reckoning for the National Telecommunications Commission and Office of the Solicitor General due to the non-issuance of a provisional authority to the network.

While he assured that the Congress will do its job, the House speaker failed to indicate a day to resume hearing on ABS-CBN’s franchise bills.

RELATED: FLAG: House inaction led to ABS-CBN shutdown

House has duty to end confusion over ABS-CBN's pending franchise renewal

The lawmakers said they also share Cayetano’s frustrations and take “strong exceptions to NTC’s trickery and the [OSG’s] interventionist action,” but pointed out that the blame is now pinned on Congress and the House panel over the media giant’s shutdown.

“That the citizenry also lost one of their man sources of credible and efficient news and information in this time of crisis brought by the COVID-19 pandemic was also largely blamed on our chamber,” the lawmakers said.

READ: ABS-CBN shutdown robs ordinary Filipinos source of information, entertainment — urban poor group

They stressed: The “House now has the primary duty and responsibility to put an end to the uncertainties and confusion brought by the pendency of the application of renewal of the ABS-CBN’s franchise.”

“It is in this spirit that we write and appeal to you good office, Mr. Speaker, to facilitate the immediate convening of the Committee on Legislative Franchise so that it can tackle with dispatch the pending renewal bills for consideration,” the lawmakers added.

The House panel on legislative franchise on Monday issued a show cause order against NTC officials and ordered them to explain why they should not be cited in contempt over their non-issuance of a provisional authority to ABS-CBN despite telling the Congress they would do so back in March.

While they noted that there are other measures that need Congress’ action, the lawmakers said that ABS-CBN franchise woes are as important, taking into account its “impact, economically and politically.”

The following lawmakers signed the letter to Cayetano:

  • Deputy Speaker Rose Marie “Baby” Arenas (Pangasinan, 3rd District)
  • Deputy Speaker Johnny Pimentel (Surigao del Sur, 2nd District)
  • Deputy Speaker Vilma Santos-Recto (Batangas, 6th District)
  • Deputy Minority Leader Carlos Isagani Zarate (Bayan Muna, party-list)
  • Rep. Arlene Brosas (Gabriela Women’s Party)
  • Rep. Josephine Ramirez-Sato (Occidental Mindoro)
  • Rep. France Castro (ACT Teachers party-list)
  • Rep. Rufus Rodriguzez (Cagayan de Oro, 2nd District)
  • Rep. Micaela Violago (Nueva Ecija, 2nd District)
  • Rep. Ferdinand Gaite (Bayan Muna party-list)
  • Rep. Sol Aragones (Laguna, 3rd District)
  • Rep. Eufemia Cullamat (Bayan Muna party-list)
  • Rep. Joy Myra Tambunting (Parañaque, 2nd District)
  • Rep. Sarah Jane Elago (Kabataan party-list)

Meanwhile, ABS-CBN ran to the Supreme Court to stop the implementation of the NTC order.

Their Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition was raffled off to a member-in-charge on Monday morning, SC spokesperson Brian Hosaka said. — Kristine Joy Patag with report from The STAR/Edu Punay

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