An empty booth of DZMM, the radio arm of ABS-CBN, is seen 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
House panel to tackle ABS-CBN franchise on May 26
Kristine Joy Patag ( - May 20, 2020 - 12:41pm

MANILA, Philippines — The House Committee on Legislative Franchises will resume hearings on franchise bills of embattled ABS-CBN Corporation on May 26.

State-run PTV4 posted the agenda of the committee on Wednesday, a day after House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said they will forego hearing a provisional franchise for the network and instead tackle a 25-year franchise.

The committee will deliberate on the 13 bills seeking to renew the media giant's legislative franchise.

Also included on the panel's agenda is House Resolution 853, filed by Deputy Speaker Paolo Duterte (Davao), which seeks an inquiry into supposed violations of the network.

Cayetano, in a separate statement, said that he “foresees” that the hearings would not go beyond July. “[A]fter President [Rodrigo] Duterte’s SONA (State of the Nation Address), we should be ready to decide.”

Senate hands are tied sans House bill approval

Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon, in an interview with CNN Philippines’ The Source, stressed that the Senate cannot pass the franchise bill of ABS-CBN unless the House transmits its version first.

If the House in plenary would pass the franchise bill for the network, it will then transmit it to the Senate. This will later be submitted to the Palace for President Rodrigo Duterte’s signature and be published on the Official Gazette to take effect.

“This means ABS-CBN cannot go back on air because the franchise has not been renewed,” Drilon said.

The Senate Committee on Public Services held an “anticipatory” hearing on ABS-CBN franchise on Tuesday, but did not file a report on it as it has yet to receive the approved version from the House.

He said the Senate is ready to vote on ABS-CBN’s franchise bill and would take “a week at the most” to have it passed.

But Drilon added: “We barely have six session days left before we adjourn.”

The Congress is set to adjourn session on June 4 and would not resume until July 27.

Still off air

The media network ran to the SC to seek injunction against the NTC’s Cease and Desist Order issued May 5, but has yet to secure a temporary restraining order.

ABS-CBN had earlier said, in a motion submitted to the Supreme Court, after the signing of their franchise law, they would still have to apply for permits to operate from the National Telecommunications Commission. 

They reiterated their plea from the SC for the issuance of the halt order against the implemenation of NTC's CDO. But the SC in an en banc session Tuesday, instead, directed the NTC, Senate and House to file their respective comments on ABS-CBN’s petition.

ABS-CBN CEO Carlo Katigbak told the Senate panel Tuesday that the company fears that come August, it would have to lay off some of its workers if it cannot go back on air soon.

READ: Layoffs loom at ABS-CBN by August if broadcast not resumed

The network said it losses about P30 million to P35 million for each day it does not broadcast.

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