A congressman lambasted a broadsheet for a “misleading” story that falsely portrayed the House of Representatives negatively for allegedly freezing a bill that was supposed to extend the franchise of ABS-CBN.
Re-elected Surigao Del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel said in an article posted on politics.com that the Congress has no intentions of freezing any franchise application.
“What happened is that deliberations on the franchise was not finished because inabutan na ng adjournment of the 17th Congress,” he was quoted saying.
Atty. Terry Ridon, who served in the Congress for three years under the Kabataan Party-list, also chimed in, explaining in another article on politics.com.ph that there is no such thing as freezing a bill in the House of Representatives.
“In simple terms, Congress simply did not act on the franchise renewal bill during the 17th Congress, especially with only a few weeks to go until the present term of office ends,” he said. Ridon, who was a member of the House Committee on Legislative Franchises during the 16th Congress, said.
Pimentel and Ridon were reacting to the Philstar Online article on the franchise issue on June 12. In the reports, an unnamed legislator said ABS-CBN’s franchise bill will only move when the network resolves their issues with President Rodrigo Duterte, who has repeatedly and publicly threatened to oppose the franchise renewal of ABS-CBN.
Ridon said this claim undermines the legislative body’s independence from the President “particularly on matters relating to legislative franchises which is constitutionally determined as the province of the legislature.”
Pimentel added the story wrongly implies that the House deliberately obstructed the passage of the franchise bill, which was filed in the 17th Congress by Nueva Ecija Rep. Micaela Violago and former Davao City representative and now Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles.
Current House Speaker and former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo also said in ambush interview with Manila Bulletin that there’s nothing more that the Congress can do now, “Congress is finished, our sessions are over,” she said.
Meanwhile, both Pimentel and Ridon emphasized that it is not the end of the road for the ABS-CBN franchise bill, as it is for all the other pending bills before the House adjourned, as it can be re-filed when the 18th Congress opens on July 22.
Meanwhile, netizens have also given their views on the issue. Facebook user Henry Fonda said he believes the media will unite and help the Kapamilya network.
“Hnd nga napsara ni Marcos c Digong pa kaya?lets wait and see then learn…mabilis ang movement ng media ngayon and they will help each other..,” he posted.
Another netizen, meanwhile, raised the concern again about people losing jobs because of the non-renewal of the franchise.
“Imagine the numbers of families which will be economically displaced once the ABS-CBN closes down?– the crew, janitors, cameramen propsmen, make-up artists and their assistants; production staff– everyone else from the electricians, errands, writers, editors, lightsmen. This includes also the artists, journalists etcetera, having their staff, drivers, household helpers, nannies, panic. All these people have families to feed, children to send to schools, parents to support. While other nations work so hard to promote employment, generate income, raise standard of living, here is one administration next to Ferdinand Marcos’ who does the opposite like gangsters do? Intimidation?,” Roland C. Moreno said.
An avid fan with username Cancino R. Joanne also lamented on how life would be for Filipinos without ABS-CBN.
“Pag nag close na ang Abs cbn wla ng mapapanuod sa ibang bansa thru tfc ang ilang ofw na homesick, wla nang magandang panuorin, puro balitang pabor sa bulok na sistema ng adminstrasyon nlang, at higit sa lahat matatapos na ang probinsyano wla ng mgandang buhay sa umaga,” she said.
Meanwhile, the Commission on Human Rights also released a statement expressing its deep concern on the alleged freezing of ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal bill. CHR spokesperson Jacqueline De Guia said “If the network has committed any violation, it must be tackled through due process.”
The constitution states that the application for franchise should undergo a normal legislative process in both the Lower House and Senate and needs the President’s signature once Congress has approved it
With the past Congress closing before any action on the previous bill could be taken, the ball is now with the newly-elected congressmen and congresswomen of the 18th Congress. Will they decide based on the merits of the 65-year old network or will they be swayed by the issues of the highest official in the land?