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Rep. France Castro says ABS-CBN franchise “laid on the table” not “killed”

But “laid on the table” doesn’t mean a bill has been killed. It simply means discussions are temporarily suspended,” he said.

Rep. France Castro said that ABS-CBN bill for a franchise renewal was not killed, but rather “laid on the table”.

The statement means that the bill still has the chance to be approved but accordingly, the discussion about it was temporarily suspended.

“We have received a letter from the Committee on Legislative Franchises that our ABS-CBN franchise bill has been ‘laid on the table’.

“But ‘laid on the table’ doesn’t mean a bill has been killed. It simply means discussions are temporarily suspended,” he said.

People have already marked July 10 as the date of the media giant ABS-CBN’s shutdown. It is the date when the House committee on legislative franchises voted in favor of the “Resolution Denying the Franchise Application of ABS-CBN Corporation to Construct, Install, Establish, Operate, and Maintain Radio and Broadcasting Stations in the Philippines”.

After 13 House hearings, lawmakers voted 70-11 by an overwhelming majority to deny ABS-CBN’s application for renewal of its broadcast franchise. The network had been forced off the air, stopping  its broadcasting operations.

Anakalusugan Rep. Michael Defensor, one of the House members to reject the franchise application, explained that “technically … for a franchise application, the effect would be to kill it.”

Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano wanted the public to respect their decision on the franchise application and asked the people to read the findings of the House committee carefully before they come up with their judgments. This is in order for them to appreciate the reasons for their decision.

“The decision was not arrived at without serious consideration of the overall impact it will have on the nation,” Cayetano said.

“I pray that despite our differences, we will eventually come to respect the decision of the committee and its members, and begin to move forward in rebuilding the relationships that have been strained by this issue,” he added.

However, Rep. France Castro said otherwise with the network’s bill being “killed”. Even though the decision of the lawmakers on the matter of the ABS-CBN’s franchise was put to an end and will no longer advance to the plenary level, Castro explained that they want the House plenary to decide over the bill.

The six-member Makabayan bloc led by Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate, along with Eufemia Cullamat, Ferdinand Gaite, Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas, ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro, and Kabataan Rep. Sarah Elago formally asked the House committee on legislative franchises to submit its resolution rejecting the ABS-CBN Corp. franchise renewal bills to the plenary for ratification.

The request was conveyed in a letter to Palawan Rep. Franz Alvarez, whose franchise committee rejected ABS-CBN’s application last July 10.

“May we, therefore, respectfully move and pray for the Committee on Legislative Franchise to submit the said Committee (Technical Working Group) Report and the adopted Committee Resolution to the plenary for ratification of its decision,” they said.

They said that the TWG report “is full of uncertainties and doubts that it is a wonder how a conclusion was reached when the whole Report was littered with terms like ‘it appears’, ‘it seems’, and a plethora of insecure statements.

“The next step, therefore, is to resolve (these) insecurities and doubts through a Plenary debate and approval,” they added.

The bloc said that when a rejected bill is “laid on the table,” it is not “killed” as some of their colleagues claimed, saying that nowhere in the (House) Rules does it say that a bill is ‘killed if it is laid on the table.’

They pointed out that the majority of the 305 members of the House of Representatives are being deprived of the opportunity to deliberate and even vote on the said issue, in the representation of their constituents who were badly affected by the Committee decision.

Parañaque City Rep. Joy Tambunting supported the appeal for the House plenary to decide on the divisive issue.

She said that “There’s a chance that it may succeed. There are (305) House members. Only 70 voted against the franchise.”

Tambunting recommended that the voting in the plenary should be held via secret ballot to remove the worry in the consequences of their vote.

“If it’s a secret vote, I think there is a big chance. By secret voting, we don’t have to worry about the consequences of our votes,” she said.

The bloc pointed out that the committee denied ABS-CBN’s franchise application despite the absence of compelling reasons. Relevant government agencies cleared ABS-CBN during the hearings of any irregularity and delinquencies.

With the network’s shutdown, the jobs of 11,000 ABS-CBN employees are at stake amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The broadcasting network revealed that it will lay off a number of its employees or undergo a retrenchment program to ensure the employment of the rest of the employees.

House Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate, an ex officio member of the committee, explained that there are remedies that ABS-CBN and lawmakers can resort to including the re-filing of a new bill. He said that there is a rule where a person who voted with the majority—in this scenario, a person who voted against the franchise renewal—can file a motion for reconsideration.

There were rumors that the rejection of the ABS-CBN franchise was to take its ownership away from the Lopez family.

Atienza and Lagman believe so after Deputy Speaker LRay Villafuerte suggested that the Lopezes sell the network to other businessmen so it could have a chance of securing a franchise in 2022.

Also in a zoom meeting, the congressmen led by Deputy Speaker Rodante Marcoleta, Deputy Majority Leader Jesus Crispin Remulla, and Anakalusugan Rep. Michael Defensor raised their doubts about the Lopez family’s legal rights to the ABS-CBN property and JUSMAG compound. Marcoleta claimed that the land title of ABS-CBN is fake thus, they can be cast out from their ‘home’.


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