The House of Representatives may be ready to decide on the ABS-CBN franchise.
In a statement, House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said they may be ready to decide on the fate of ABS-CBN franchise by July or August after President Duterte’s State of the Nation Address (SONA).
“They will not stop until they are finished so that no one can say we’re stopping the process or dragging our feet,” he told ABS-CBN News.
“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,” he added.
The lower house has already abandoned its provisional franchise bill HB 6732 to directly discuss the 11 pending bills seeking to give ABS-CBN fresh 25-year franchise.
“Because of all this divisiveness and after all consulting with members of the House, the political parties and the regional groups – I thank you for that, for the consultation, for your belief in the leadership – I, together with the House of Representatives leadership, have decided to forego with the provisional franchise and immediately proceed with the hearings for the full 25-year renewal application of the ABS franchise,” the Speaker said during the plenary session.
This came after the house has already exerted time and effort to discuss the provisional franchise bill and passed 1st and 2nd reading. Some lawmakers however were not satisfied with the speedy passage of the bill and recalled its 2nd reading voting over questions of constitutionality.
Meanwhile, the House Committee on Legislative Franchises has already set the schedule for their hearing on the 25-year franchise bills. Committee chair Franz Alvarez said the hearing is set on May 26, 9:30 a.m.
With ABS-CBN’s continuing shutdown, the company is said to be losing 30-35 million in revenue per day.
While ABS-CBN management decided to keep all their employees and give them full benefits for the next 3 months, the company is afraid that if they cannot be back on air soon, retrenchment may be in the offing in August.