After spending the resources of the House of Representatives and several days of hearing the ABS-CBN provisional franchise bill, the House leadership decided to abandon the bill and directly discuss the main franchise renewal bills that will give ABS-CBN a fresh 25-year license.
On Tuesday, May 19, House Speaker Alan Cayetano announced that the lower house will now start the deliberation of the 11 pending bills at the Committee on Legislative Franchises.
“Because of all this divisiveness and after consulting with the members of the House, the political parties, and the regional groups… 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-CBN franchise,” he said.
On May 14, the House Committee of the Whole passed the ABS-CBN provisional franchise bill on 1st and 2nd reading.
However, on Monday, May 18, House Deputy Majority Leader Wilter Wee Palma moved to withdraw the 2nd reading approval of the bill and reopen the period of sponsorship and debate as well as the period of amendments for the measure.
“Let me make this of record, Mr Speaker, that at any time, the House can approve this bill, House Bill 6732 on 3rd reading, but because of the insistence of our colleagues to interpellate further on the matter, I move that we reconsider our approval on 2nd reading of HB 6732,” Palma said.
And during the period of debates, a number of congressmen suggested that they hear now the 25-year franchise bill instead of finishing the provisional franchise and do another hearing for the main franchise renewal.
Meanwhile, Speaker Cayetano said the hearing for the 25-year franchise will start next week and he assured that it will be a continuous hearing even though the House in on session break.
“Magsisimula na po next week (ang hearings) at hindi po sila titigil hanggang tapos na. Hinihiling ko po na lahat makapagsalita, pati po ‘yung maanghang ang salita, we will ask them to follow the right decorum. But we will allow them to speak,” he said.
“Katulad naman nung ginawa naman natin sa disease COVID-19 committee, kahit na break nung 6 weeks during ECQ (enhanced community quarantine), tuloy-tuloy ang hearing natin. So, there’ll be probably be a hybrid (session), minsan kailangan ‘yung resource person nandito mismo. Ba’t yung ibang hearing, we can do in Zoom or teleconferencing,” he said.
With the recent development, several netizens took to social media to air their sentiments. Most of them can’t help but feel disappointed and frustrated with the lower house’s actions saying they only wasted precious time and efforts for the provisional franchise when in fact they could have already started deliberating in the 25-year franchise instead.
From the very start, Congress should have tackled the 25-year franchise renewal of ABS-CBN and not waste time on the 6-month provisional franchise.
— Dan Santos (@DanSantos8) May 19, 2020
In Congress, they argue whether or not to hear ABS-CBN's renewal at this time because some argue it is not an urgent concern. The administration, on the other hand, seems hellbent on using urgently needed resources on things like these. Make no mistake, this is costing lives. https://t.co/obJ7sgHx3b
— Jethro Malimata (@Jethronatixscxz) May 19, 2020
Hello? Pinatatagal ni Cayetano ang proseso ng Franchise Renewal ng ABS-CBN kasi HELLO AGAIN. Kunwari marami siyang gawa sa Congress. Kaloka.
— Cee ⛾ (@asdfghjkl_2323) May 19, 2020
Sinasabi nila maging patas daw, ehh sila patas ba? Kung Ito na-approved na ehh Di Sana ibang problema Naman ang hinaharap Ng Congress. Ang hirap Kasi SA ibang congressman binabato Yong issue na nasagot na Ng ABS-CBN para ano, para patagalin ang kaso!
— silent (@fitness_asian) May 19, 2020