MANILA – Outspoken lawyer Larry Gadon has on Thursday urged Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano to step down as speaker of the House of Representatives.
The call of Gadon came on the heels of the House’s decision granting embattled giant media network ABS-CBN a provisional franchise until October 2020 which he called as extremely unconstitutional.
“Walang provisional franchise. It’s either you give the franchise or you do not give the franchise. Walang provisional franchise sa Saligang batas,” Gadon said during an exclusive interview over DZAR AM Radio Thursday.
Gadon, who lost his senatorial candidacy in last year’s mid-term elections, also said that the manner of passing the proposed provisional franchise of ABS-CBN on second reading on the same day Wednesday when Congress convened as Committee of the Whole was another violation of the Constitution under Article 6, Section 26 (No. 2) of the Philippine Constitution.
The Constitution stipulates that all resolutions or bills like ABS-CBN’s franchise bill, must be approved on first, second and third reading in three different days. Cayetano violated this provision when he saw to it that proposed bill was passed on the first and second reading in just one day.
Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano is the principal author of House Bill No. 6732, which seeks to grant the ABS-CBN Corporation a franchise to construct, install, operate, and maintain radio and television broadcasting stations in the Philippines.
Gadon explained that under the law, Congress must hold one, two, and three readings over a certain bill in three separate days.
“Ang nagyari ngayon nag-file at after 30 minutes inaproban ng kongreso sa second reading ang naturang panukalang batas sa dicta ni Speaker Cayetano,” Gadon said.
“Seguro palitan na lang siya (Speaker Cayetano) kasi hindi niya maitama ang pagpatakbo ng Kongreso.
“Minadali talaga. Labag yan sa Constitution kaya hindi yan papasa (HB 6732). Ang ginawa kahapon ay ni-railroad at hindi man nabigyan kahapon ng pagkakataon ag mga opositors,” Gadon added.
“On record may pinayl si Deputy Speaker Paolo Duterte calling for an investigation for the violations of ABS-CBN. Bakit hindi binigyan ng pagkakataon na ma-discuss.”
“May opposition din ang Federation of International Cable TV Associates of the Philippines (FICTAP) at mayroon ding nakabinbin na kaso sa Supreme Court questioning the violations of ABS-CBN.”
“Binaliwala lahat ito at ang kanilang dahilang ay may crisis daw ngayon sa COVID-19 (coronavirus) eh, ang dami naman ng media organization diyan.”
Confident Duterte would veto
Gadon also said he is confident that President Rodrigo Duterte would veto the ABS-CBN bill.
“Yan ay ibe-veto ng President. Hindi ko pinangungunahan ang President Duterte kaya lang mahigpit sa pagpapatupad ng batas yan kasi tagal niya sa pagiging prosecutor. Nakita nya yan na wala sa proseso,” Gadon said.
“Nakakasiguro ako na hindi nya yan papayagan.”
ABS-CBN went off the air on May 5 following a shutdown order from the National Telecommunications Commission, a day after the expiration of its franchise.
Both the NTC and the House have been blamed for the network’s closure, since the regulator earlier promised to give it provisional authority, while the lower chamber refused to tackle bills on the renewal of its franchise.
It was gathered that the proposed bill should have taken the regular route or through the Committee on Legislative Franchises for it to be heard and discussed instead the House convened as a Committee of the Whole.
Shameless act of Cayetano
And after the First Reading and sponsorship speeches it was immediately loaded in the train and speeded through the railroad, a shameless act of Cayetano, Gadon allegedly stated.
On Monday, 18 May 2020, the House of Representatives will convene anew on the plenary for the Third and Final Reading and vote on House Bill No. 6732 (ABS-CBN franchise bill).
There shall be no more interpellations and debate and amendments on the proposed bill which, if approved by the Lower House, will then be transmitted to the Upper Chamber (Senate).
There may be a possibility that the Senate may not with dispatch the passage of the said Bill since the Senators might not call for a Committee of the whole, instead will course it through the Committee on Public Service.
Senators are not known for being reckless, so they will observe proper procedures, unlike the House which did not follow the Constitution by doing the first reading and second reading on the same session sources said.
It is expected that there will be discrepancies in the approved measure by the House with the Senate version, with which representatives of both chambers would meet in a Bicameral Conference Committee and will be having a hard time ironing out kinks, especially on the period or term of the franchise, which expectedly the Senate will not agree to five months term and will call for a longer period.
Another difficulty is when the House finally settle their differences at the bicam and the bill is approved and duly signed by both houses, it will then be sent to Malacanang for signing of President Duterte but the latter might not sign it and veto the bill for being flawed, having been illegally passed by the House.
President Duterte has the penchant for being orderly and legal and he knows that Speaker Cayetano railroaded the bill thus not in conformity to the Constitutional mandate Gadon said further.
Right to veto
Under the Constitution, the President has the right to veto an enrolled bill within 30 days upon receipt, and if left unsigned, it would mean the Chief Executive disapproves the said measure that may have violated some provisions of the Constitution.
The President will then return the un-approved measure to the House of Representatives along with the explanation on why he vetoed it.
The House has the power to overturn or override a vetoed bill by the President through a 2/3 vote of all the members of the Lower House although this has never happened in the entire legislative history of the country.
Failure too on the part of the President to sign or make any comment on any enrolled bill within 30 days, it automatically becomes a law, or Republic Act.
Presuming the President signs the bill into law, the ABS-CBN franchise does not give them an automatic license to resume operation. The network needs to apply with the NTC for it to be reissued anew with a Provisional Authority (PA) allowing it to get a frequency to broadcast. Getting a PA by ABS-CBN may not easily come as they have to face the “oppositors” in a hearing to be conducted by the NTC.
And NTC may not grant ABS-CBN a PA if the latter would be proven to have violated its franchise as allegedly raised by Solicitor General Jose Calida on his quo warranto case with the Supreme Court against the network.
Add to it a possible case that Atty Gadon may file in the next few days where he said: “Ito’y unconstitutional. Hindi pwede yung ngayon pi-nile, 30 minutes after the session ngayon mo rin in-assign sa Committee of the Whole kuno ‘tas ngayon mo rin ipapasa? Yan ay unconstitutional,” Gadon said. (ia/SovereignPH.com)