Philippine House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano | Inquirer.net photo

Philippine House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano vowed that there will be fair hearings into the bills seeking to renew the franchise of media giant ABS-CBN.

According to him, the franchise renewal of ABS-CBN is among the issues that the House has been carefully studying from day one of the 18th Congress, even as some of his colleagues called for urgent hearings on the bill. 

“Consistent with the Duterte Administration’s stand on the protection of the freedom of expression, Congress is committed to conduct an impartial hearing where those who are against or in favor of the renewal may make their case,” Cayetano said on Tuesday, February 11, adding that the move would be in line with the current administration’s stand on the “protection of the freedom of expression.”

A total of 11 bills seeking ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal remain pending in the House with less than a month left before the lower chamber’s sessions adjourn on March 11.

ABS-CBN’s franchise is set to expire on March 30. 

However, Cayetano said that the legislative process cannot be rushed, and that the House is working alongside the chamber’s panel on legislative franchises “on how to prioritize urgent and important legislation.”

“While we understand that there are certain interests who want to rush this process, we stand by the leadership of the 18th Congress and the Committee on Legislative Franchises on how to prioritize urgent and important legislation. We also commit that the 18th Congress shall study this issue from all aspects in order to protect the interest of the public,” he said.

Solicitor General Jose Calida on Monday, February 10 filed a petition before the Supreme Court for the cancellation of ABS-CBN’s 25-year franchise, alleging that the TV network reportedly violated rules set by Congress.

“We want to put an end to what we discovered to be highly abusive practices of ABS-CBN benefitting a greedy few at the expense of millions of its loyal subscribers. These practices have gone unnoticed or were disregarded for years,” he said in a statement.

ABS-CBN, for its part, maintained that it has complied with all the laws governing its franchise and secured all government and regulatory approvals for its operations. 

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