After months of implementing delaying tactics to act on the 11 bills seeking for the ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal, House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez convened the Committee of the Whole to discuss the ABS-CBN franchise on Wednesday afternoon.
In addition to that, House Speaker and one of the authors who filed the House Bill No. 6732 Alan Peter Cayetano was said to be sponsoring the bill in the plenary but the media has yet to receive it.
House Bill No. 6732 means that the issue of ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal will only go through 3rd and final readings in the Senate right before President Rodrigo Duterte can finally sign and approve it.
House Bill No. 6732 grants the giant network to obtain a provisional franchise to continue operating until October 31, 2020. As per Cayetano, he filed the bill to let the Congress focus on addressing the pandemic COVID-19 disease and provide enough time to discuss the controversial franchise renewal of ABS-CBN.
During an interview with ABS-CBN’s Teleradyo, Cayetano revealed that ABS-CBN may go back on air in the first week of June if everything goes well and if the Senate can tackle it as fast as they could amidst the other important bills that require their attention.
Cayetano said: “If everything goes well, God willing, Monday matapos namin on final reading, Tuesday nasa Senado. Kung kaya ng Senado one week, the week after next, latest first week ng June on the air na ulit.”
After the 3rd reading in the Senate, Duterte is set to decide whether to reject or approve it, in which Cayetano believes that the President will be fair since he used to be a lawyer.
He continued: “Ang ating Pangulo po ay abogado. Kung ako ang tanungin niya, ang sasabihin ko ‘sir, pang ano lang ‘to eh, pang-due process. Hindi ko alam kung ive-veto niya o hindi, pero sa pagkakilala ko sa ating pangulo, abogado eh, fairness, due process.”
It’s been more than a week now since the National Telecommunications Commissions issued a cease and desist order to ABS-CBN to shut down immediately. This was the second time that the network was shut down, the first being Martial Law under the Marcos dictatorship.
ABS-CBN is losing P30 million up to P35 million each day it is off the air, amounting to P1 billion in just a month due to lack of advertising revenues. In fact, ABS-CBN admitted that the they have received a notice from the bank asking for collateral.
“Because of the CDO, ABS-CBN will not be able to service its debts, and this would constrain its creditors to require collateral for its loans. ABS-CBN has, in fact, already received a notice from a bank demanding such collateral. Its credit lines and letters of credit had already been adversely affected, thereby seriously hampering activities that require such financing.”