MANILA – Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Tuesday said a “hearing does not mean automatic renewal” of media giant ABS-CBN’s franchise.
Cayetano made the statement after 14 lawmakers who have authored bills on ABS-CBN’s franchise bid called on the House leadership to immediately tackle the long-pending measures in the lower chamber.
“We remain cognizant of our responsibility in addressing the pending issue of the ABC-CBN franchise,” Cayetano said in a Facebook post.
“While the deception of the NTC (National Telecommunications Commission) and the meddling of the Solicitor General add exigency to the matter, there are still other concerns that need to be resolved,” he added.
Cayetano noted that the only thing the hearing guarantees is that the network will be able to present its case, in the same manner as those who oppose it.
“The serious concerns that have been raised can no longer be swept under the rug, and it is absolutely necessary for Congress to give this matter all the time and attention it requires,” he said.
He stressed the need to conduct a series of “proper” hearings to put an end to the “uncertainties and doubt”.
“Ultimately, it is only through a fair, impartial, comprehensive, and thorough presentation and appreciation of the evidence that we can clear the air. Your House of the People will put the interest of the Filipino people first, and in these extraordinary times prioritization, fairness and timing are of utmost importance,” he added.
In a letter addressed to the Speaker on Monday, the bills’ authors and co-authors said they shared Cayetano’s “frustrations” with the non-issuance of a provisional authority to the network by the NTC despite its commitment made under oath during a March 10 House hearing.
“Instead, the precipitate May 5 issuance by the NTC to a cease-and-desist has even placed in a bad light, to say the least, the committee in particular and the House of Representatives in general,” their letter said.
They said the House and its legislative franchises committee “are now being blamed for the shutdown of the network and for being off the air since then, as well as for the displacement of thousands of its employees and workers.”
“While we take strong exceptions to NTC’s trickery and the Office of the Solicitor General’s interventionist actions, we firmly believe that the House now has the primary duty and responsibility to put an end to the uncertainties and confusion brought by the pendency of the application of renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise,” the lawmakers’ letter read.
“We write and appear to your good office, Mr. Speaker, to facilitate the immediate convening of the committee on legislative franchises so that it can tackle with dispatch the pending renewal bills for consideration,” it added.
Those who signed the letter were Deputy Speakers Vilma Santos-Recto of Batangas, Rose Marie Arenas of Pangasinan, and Johnny Pimentel of Surigao del Sur, and Representatives Rufus Rodriguez of Cagayan de Oro City, Joy Myra Tambunting of Parañaque, Micaela Violago of Nueva Ecija, Josephine Sato of Occidental Mindoro, Sol Aragones of Laguna, Arlene Brosas of Gabriela, France Castro of Act Teachers, Sarah Jane Elago of Kabataan, and Carlos Zarate, Ferdinand Gaite and Eufemia Cullamat of Bayan Muna. (PNA)