House committee to tackle ABS-CBN franchise on May 26

House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano | Philstar.com photo

The Philippines House Committee on Legislative Franchises has set a hearing on ABS-CBN’s franchise bills for next week.

The announcement for the Tuesday, May 26 deliberations comes after House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said that the House of Representatives would forego the provisional franchise for the network giant to prioritize the bills for a 25-year franchise.

The hearing will be chaired by Palawan Rep. Franz Alvarez through videoconferencing at 9:30 a.m.

Cayetano said that the deliberations by the House franchises committee will continue even during the congressional recess in June.

“They will not stop until they are finished so that no one can say we’re stopping the process or dragging our feet,” he said.

He added that the committee would most likely hold two to three hearings a week to tackle “no more than 10 issues” related to the franchise, including: ABS-CBN’s alleged violations of tax and labor laws, breaches of the terms and conditions of its previous broadcast privilege, and foreign equity issues.

Some witnesses and resource persons would also be required to physically appear before the committee, provided that social distancing and other health protocols are observed, according to the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

“I foresee that the hearings would not go beyond July, and by August, after President Duterte’s SONA (State of the Nation Address), we should be ready to decide,” Cayetano said.

He also reiterated that the hearing should be impartial and comprehensive.

“As I’ve said time and again, the hearings must be fair, impartial, comprehensive, and thorough. All voices must be heard and all issues for and against will be discussed…this will require a lot of time – time we do not have. And so, there will be sacrifices on our part if we hope to finish this without delay,” he said.

“For those who are calling for an outright approval or denial, I ask that you suspend your extreme views until all the facts have been presented, and all the testimonies have been heard,” Cayetano added.

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