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âABS-CBN franchise issue best left to next Congressâ
Palawan Rep. Franz Alvarez said there is no need to raise the matter again before the plenary as it was already put to rest by their panel’s decision in July last year to reject the network’s application for franchise renewal.
Boy Santos, file

‘ABS-CBN franchise issue best left to next Congress’

Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - January 29, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The franchise issue of broadcast giant ABS-CBN is best left to the next Congress, the chair of the House legislative franchises committee said yesterday.

Palawan Rep. Franz Alvarez said there is no need to raise the matter again before the plenary as it was already put to rest by their panel’s decision in July last year to reject the network’s application for franchise renewal.

“Under the rules, any one of the 70 House members who voted against the franchise application could file a motion for reconsideration on behalf of ABS-CBN to challenge the decision of the Committee.

Unfortunately, there was none, thus the committee decision has become final,” Alvarez explained in a statement.

He said the franchise issue is already “moot and academic” after they voted 70-11 to reject the bills seeking to grant a fresh 25-year franchise to the network.

“The subject matter of the unfinished business in the plenary is House Bill 6732, which seeks to grant ABS-CBN a provisional franchise effective until Oct. 31, 2020,” Alvarez pointed out.

“Based on my understanding from the House leadership, the ABS-CBN franchise issue is best left to the next Congress.”

Alvarez made the statement after Deputy Speaker and Batangas Rep. Vilma Santos-Recto filed a new bill pushing to grant a franchise to the network, taking cue from a similar measure in the Senate filed by Senate President Vicente Sotto III.

It also came after panel vice chair and Anakalusugan Rep. Mike Defensor raised the ABS-CBN franchise in session last Wednesday and asked the plenary to settle the matter that has remained in their agenda since last year.

Defensor stood up and manifested that the committee report on House Bill 6732, which grants ABS-CBN a franchise to operate until Oct. 31 last year, has been languishing on the floor for many months already. The committee report has been included in the “unfinished business” of the House, and Defensor argued that the chamber should take up these matters first before going on with their business for the day.

“Mr. Speaker, I would like to raise a point of order that the unfinished business of the ABS-CBN franchise be decided first before we take up any issue in plenary,” Defensor argued.

After debate on the matter, Senior Deputy Majority Leader Jesus Crispin Remulla informed the floor that the matter is scheduled to be taken up in their next session on Monday.

House Bill 6732 was filed by former speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and seven other lawmakers in May last year to grant ABS-CBN a provisional franchise while the committee was deliberating on the measures that sought to renew the original franchise of the network for another 25 years.

The measure was approved in the committee level, through the committee of the whole, and on second reading on May 13, 2020, eight days after ABS-CBN went off the air.

However, the bill was later reverted to the plenary to accommodate additional interpellation and amendments from lawmakers.

Cayetano then decided to just consider the proposals to grant a 25-year-franchise to ABS-CBN instead of giving the network a provisional one, leaving House Bill 6732 pending on the floor.

The House franchise panel later rejected the bill due to violations of the franchise by the network.

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