House panel to probe ABS-CBN violations
“Whereas, ABS-CBN Corp. is operating a pay-per-view channel through free-to-air signals in violation of its legislative franchise. By charging the public with this pay-per-view Kapamilya Box Office channel through TV Plus, it has been gaining huge profits at the expense of the public while using the air frequencies provided by the government for free,” they declared.
Boy Santos, file
House panel to probe ABS-CBN violations
Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) - May 18, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — A key leader of the House of Representatives served notice to the Lopez-owned ABS-CBN that the chamber will still look into alleged violations of the TV giant’s legislative franchise even if a new franchise is already underway. 

Palawan Rep. Franz Alvarez, chairman of the House committee on legislative franchises, made it clear that they will take up all House resolutions related to the renewal, “including” that of Davao City Rep. and Deputy Speaker Paolo Duterte’s House Resolution 853.  

The resolution, co-authored by Reps. Abraham Tolentino (Tagaytay) – brother of Sen. Francis Tolentino – and ACT-CIS Rep. Eric Go Yap, wants the House leadership to conduct “an investigation into ABS-CBN’s alleged violations of its franchise.”  

Both Tolentino and Yap are allies of the Duterte administration – Tolentino heads the House accounts committee while Yap sits as chairman of the committee on appropriations. 

“Whereas, ABS-CBN Corp. is operating a pay-per-view channel through free-to-air signals in violation of its legislative franchise. By charging the public with this pay-per-view Kapamilya Box Office channel through TV Plus, it has been gaining huge profits at the expense of the public while using the air frequencies provided by the government for free,” they declared. 

The Alvarez committee was tasked to investigate the alleged franchise violations as ABS-CBN tries to renew its expired May 4 franchise, hoping to extend it for another 25 years, or until 2045.  

The House has constituted itself into a committee of the whole and approved on second reading a bill giving the broadcast network franchise that will be valid until Oct. 31 this year, subject to the lawmakers’ final decision to issue a 25-year franchise or not. 

Last week, Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano has asked their counterparts in the Senate to respect the discretion and actions of the House on the franchise renewal application of broadcast giant ABS-CBN.

“We want to work with you, to build our nation, but respect our timing and manner of holding our hearings. In other words, let’s all play nice and not just pretend to be nice,” Cayetano said in a statement. 

“Allow us to do our jobs. Remember it is always easier to get 24 people to agree than 300. Remember we represent specific constituencies and sectors and that is why the 1987 Constitution provides that franchise bills will exclusively emanate from the House,” he said. 

The Speaker made the appeal as several senators questioned the bill passed by the House allowing the network to return on air by granting a provisional franchise until October while Congress deliberates on its franchise renewal application.

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, meantime, called on Cayetano to “cure” what he called as “defective passage of interim franchise” that may eventually be passed on third reading in the chamber.  

“Exigency or even good motives cannot excuse or validate the repetition of an unconstitutional act or procedure,” he said, calling on the House leader to “desist from intransigence to cure defective passage of interim franchise.”

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