(FEBRUARY 14, 2020) – The leader of the lower house of Congress on Friday said the renewal of the country’s largest broadcast network’s franchise will have to wait until the middle of the year because it is the least of the chamber’s priorities.
House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, a staunch ally of the president, advised the public to start “soul searching” as the ABS-CBN franchise issue has started to polarize the country. The franchise will expire next month.
“Kung tayo maghe-hearing ngayong… it will suck all the energy of the 18th Congress,” he said in an inteview.
“Mapababayaan ang ibang mga importante. At pustahan tayo, lahat ng anti, pipila makapagsalita; lahat ng pro, pipila para magsalita.”
Cayetano’s statement came as public clamor and lobbying in the lower chamber grew to hold a hearing on the franchise renewal, which has been consistently filed since the 16th Congress.
The controversy accelerated when the Office of the Solicitor General filed a quo warranto petition to shut down the network after allegations of the company receiving funds from foreign investors and operating a pay-per-view TV without approvals from regulators.
However, Cayetano assured the network will not go off-air even if its franchise expires.
“I mean, lahat na kami nagsabi. So, if the committee has to come up with something official, I think there’s a consensus naman, that while we’re discussing the issues, there’s no reason na isara,” he said.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III had earlier said ABS-CBN can still operate until March 2022—when the 18th Congress ends—as long as there is a pending bill on its franchise renewal.
Cayetano said the issue may be tackled “definitely before March 2022.” (Randell Ritumalta/MM)
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