A PHILIPPINE House of Representatives committee on Wednesday, May 13 approved a bill granting the media giant ABS-CBN a provisional franchise until the end of October.
The House of Representatives Committee of the Whole gave the greenlight for House Bill 6732 or “An Act Granting the ABS-CBN Corporation A Franchise to Construct, Install, Operate and Maintain Radio and Television Broadcasting Stations in the Philippines, and For Other Purposes,” which was filed by House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano in an effort to give the House and the Senate sufficient time to deliberate the network’s franchise bid.
“Through this measure, we hope to strike a balance between the immediate needs of the people amid this crisis and the duty of Congress to ensure accountability to our present laws,” the bill read.
“Providing ABS-CBN with a provisional franchise valid until 31 October 2020 will give both the House of Representatives and the Senate to hear the issues being raised for and against the renewal, and assess, with complete impartiality and fairness, whether or not the network shall be granted a franchise for another twenty-five (25) years,” it added.
The bill was also sponsored by Representatives Neptali Gonzalez, Raneo Abu, Roberto Puno, Dan Fernandez, LRay Villafuerte Jr., Ferdinand Romualdez, and Jose Antonio Sy-Alvarado.
“The sudden turnaround by the NTC [National Telecommunications Commission] was both unexpected and unconscionable. It only disrupted the essential work of Congress, and sowed intrigue and disunity among different branches of government and our people—it was done during this period of crisis,” the lawmakers said.
“We cannot, in good conscience, sweep the accusations under the rug,” they added.
Cagayan De Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, for his part, welcomed the new development, saying that the chamber is now preparing a committee report that will be presented before the House plenary.
“We welcome this. It was a surprise but we were pleasantly surprised because there is now a bill to give a provisional franchise to ABS-CBN,” he said.
“It’s just a few months but it’s good enough so we can restore ABS-CBN to the airwaves,” he added.