MANILA, Philippines — At least five (5) more senators better known as “seatmates” at the plenary hall want continued operation for ABS-CBN until Dec. 31, 2022 or while the 18th Congress tackles the network’s franchise.
ABS-CBN’s congressional franchise expires on May 4 this year.
It was Senator Joel Villanueva who informed the media saying that he and four other members of the so-called Seatmates in the Senate who are taking the initiative for ABS-CBN.
Villanueva said they would file the resolution to that effect today, Monday, 02 March 2020.
Other members of the “Seatmates group” is composed of Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri and Senators Sonny Angara, Sherwin Gatchalian, and Nancy Binay.
“For the sake of the 11,071 workers in ABS-CBN, we (Seatmates) will file a resolution to allow NTC (National Telecommunications Commission) to give ABS-CBN a provisional authority to operate pending the discussion of its franchise in the Congress,” a joint press statement of the five senators said.
“Seatmates will file a resolution supporting the extension of its franchise until December 31, 2022.”
Through a Viber message, Villanueva also told reporters that it is “the constitutional duty of Congress to hear the franchise application of the network.”
Up to this very moment, the franchise renewal bills, at least 11 of them, are all gathering dust, pending before its chamber.
“It’s clear that the Senate can have parallel hearings on the franchise provided we will not release a committee report while waiting for the House’s approved bill,” Villanueva said. “Due process must prevail at all times.”
A concurrent resolution allowing the NTC to grant ABS-CBN provisional authority while the 18th Congress deliberates on the network’s franchise was also filed by Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon.