MANILA – The House Committee on Legislative Franchises is set to hear the proposals seeking to grant a fresh 25-year broadcast franchise to media network ABS-CBN on Tuesday next week, May 26.
The panel, chaired by Palawan Rep. Franz Alvarez, will hold the hearing at 9.30 a.m. through videoconferencing.
Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said the deliberations by the committee will continue even during the congressional recess.
“They will not stop until they are finished so that no one can say we’re stopping the process or dragging our feet,” Cayetano said in a television interview.
Cayetano said the committee would most likely hold two to three hearings a week, noting that some witnesses and resource persons would be required to physically appear before the committee, provided safe physical distancing and other health protocols are observed.
He said that the panel would look into “no more than 10 issues” in relation to ABS-CBN’s proposed new franchise, including the network’s alleged violations of tax and labor laws, breaches of the terms and conditions of its previous broadcast privilege, and foreign equity issues.
“I foresee that the hearings would not go beyond July, and by August, after President Duterte’s SONA (State of the Nation Address), we should be ready to decide,” he said.
The President will deliver his SONA before a joint session of the House and the Senate on July 27.
He said that the House is committed to conducting impartial and comprehensive hearings on the proposed fresh franchise grant.
“First, we must not forget our bigger concern, which is to defeat Covid-19 and provide hope to our countrymen. We must continue to focus on measures that will ensure saving of lives and livelihood of our kababayans,” he said.
“Second, as I’ve said time and again, the hearings must be fair, impartial, comprehensive, and thorough. All voices must be heard and all issues for and against will be discussed…this will require a lot of time – time we do not have. And so, there will be sacrifices on our part if we hope to finish this without delay,” he added. (ia/PNA)