Philippine House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Tuesday, May 12, said that other bills need to be prioritized before addressing media giant ABS-CBN’s bid for a franchise renewal.
This came after 14 lawmakers who spearheaded the network’s franchise renewal bills urged him to immediately tackle the long-pending measures in the lower chamber.
“We remain cognizant of our responsibility in addressing the pending issue of the ABS-CBN franchise,” said Cayetano in a Facebook post.
“While the deception of the NTC (National Telecommunications Commission) and the meddling of the Solicitor General add exigency to the matter, there are still other concerns that need to be resolved,” he added.
Cayetano also pointed out that a hearing “does not mean automatic renewal” of franchise. The hearing will only allow the network to present its case, in the same manner as those who oppose it.
“The serious concerns that have been raised can no longer be swept under the rug, and it is absolutely necessary for Congress to give this matter all the time and attention it requires,” he said.
“Ultimately, it is only through a fair, impartial, comprehensive, and thorough presentation and appreciation of the evidence that we can clear the air. Your House of the People will put the interest of the Filipino people first, and in these extraordinary times prioritization, fairness and timing are of utmost importance,” he added.
ABS-CBN on May 5 shut down its radio and television operations nationwide after the NTC issued the network a cease-and-desist order.
The order came after Solicitor General Jose Calida warned the NTC against granting a provisional authority to the network.
In the lawmakers’ letter addressed to Cayetano, they expressed their frustrations with the NTC not issuing a provisional authority to ABS-CBN.
The House and its legislative franchises committee “are now being blamed for the shutdown of the network and for being off the air since then, as well as for the displacement of thousands of its employees and workers,” they wrote.
“While we take strong exceptions to NTC’s trickery and the Office of the Solicitor General’s interventionist actions, we firmly believe that the House now has the primary duty and responsibility to put an end to the uncertainties and confusion brought by the pendency of the application of renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise,” they said.
The letter was signed by Deputy Speakers Vilma Santos-Recto of Batangas, Rose Marie Arenas of Pangasinan, and Johnny Pimentel of Surigao del Sur, and Representatives Rufus Rodriguez of Cagayan de Oro City, Joy Myra Tambunting of Parañaque, Micaela Violago of Nueva Ecija, Josephine Sato of Occidental Mindoro, Sol Aragones of Laguna, Arlene Brosas of Gabriela, France Castro of Act Teachers, Sarah Jane Elago of Kabataan, and Carlos Zarate, Ferdinand Gaite and Eufemia Cullamat of Bayan Muna.