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House announces hearing for ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal bills on March 10

The House of Representatives announced ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal bill would be taken up on March 10

  • Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said that the meeting will be focused on NTC and granting of provisional authority to operate on ABS-CBN
  • Cayetano previously claimed that the network is biased and said that its franchise renewal is not an urgent matter

After several delays, the House of Representatives has now stated that they will take up the 11 bills seeking to renew the franchise of ABS-CBN on March 10. This was announced by Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Wednesday, March 4.

According to Cayetano, their “meeting” would discuss these three things: to renew the call of the House committee on legislative franchises towards those for and against the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise to submit their position papers; to show the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) that the lower chamber is acting on the measures; and to finalize ground rules once hearings attended by stakeholders happen.

“I’d just like to announce that Chairman Chikoy (Franz Alvarez) as chairman of legislative franchises released a notice today that on March 10, 2020, in Belmonte Hall, South Wing Annex, we will be taking up the 11 bills concerning the ABS-CBN Corporation renewal of the franchise,” Cayetano said.

He further explained that the purpose is to show NTC that the House is taking responsibility for ABS-CBN’s bid for franchise renewal.

“Para malinaw sa NTC na pending sa committee at tine-take up na ng committee so wag nila papatayan ng ilaw ika nga or grant-an nila ng provisional authority,” Cayetano said.

But he clarified that ABS-CBN would not yet be invited to the upcoming meeting as they will focus on NTC and granting of provisional authority to operate for ABS-CBN.

“We asked both sides, gusto nyo ba mag-hearing kami, one hearing then mag-break, ayaw din naman eh. Bakit? E kasi it will be a word war for the next weeks habang naka-break kami,” Cayetano said.

“Both sides want na mag-hearing kaagad (to hold a hearing at once) but both sides want na magdesisyon na (render a decision) right away kami after mag-hearing,” the Speaker added.

The Speaker added that there will be ground rules to observe to avoid the hearing turning into a “circus”.

“Ayaw nating maging circus. Ayaw natin maging bull session ang hearing. Ibig sabihin, lahat ng may sama ng loob sa ABS yun ang gagawin. Ayaw din naman natin maging sipsipan forum na lahat ng magsasalita ay isa-isa lang sasabihin kung gaano kagaling, gaano kabango, gaano karami ang nagawa ng ABS. We want to define the issues,” Cayetano said.

“For example, lahat ng labor issues, isang usapan. Then sasagutin na to ng ABS-CBN. Lahat ng questions sa political coverage, sasama-sama ni Chairman then isang sagutan,” Cayetano said.

“Para hindi tayo parang circus, lahat ng mga press freedom advocates natin na gustong magsalita, isama-sama nila tapos ilagay natin,” he added.

This announcement came as a surprise to the public after Cayetano earlier claimed that the giant media network was biased.

Cayetano also said in his previous statements that a hearing regarding the franchise renewal wouldn’t really make sense for now.

The House of Representatives especially the Committee on Legislative Franchises is composed mostly of  President Rodrigo Duterte’s allies and members of the majority block.

Its chairperson Rep. Franz Alvares of Palawan under National Unity Party is a member of the majority block. His six vice-chairpersons are all from the majority also, Pingping Tejada of North Cotabato, Tonypet Albano of Isabela, Jonathan Alvarado of Bulacan, Mike Dy of Isabela, and Bembol Tolentino of Cavite.

Of the 40 members of the committee, 36 are all from the majority and only 4 are from the minority block: Gabby Bordado of CamSur, Janette Garin of Iloilo, Stella Quimbo of Marikina, and Arnie Teves of Negros Oriental.

With this composition, it is said that Duterte’s anointed speaker Cayetano has been delaying the franchise renewal of the broadcasting company.

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