ABS-CBN franchise pressure nixed

February 18, 2020

“DO not pressure us to do what is expedient for the sake of being popular.”

This was conveyed by Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano to those criticizing the House of Representatives for its inaction on the pending measures seeking the renewal of ABS-CBN Corporation’s franchise.

In a Facebook post, Cayetano reiterated that there is no urgency in hearing the franchise renewal of ABS-CBN because the company can still continue their operation during the 18th Congress.

“As the leader of the House, I disagree with the rush to judgment, whether in favor or against the renewal. And I will stand by this decision.  Everyone from all sides of the issue say that this is an important debate -- so allow us then to give it the due importance it deserves,” Cayetano said.

“Pressure us to do what is right regardless if it is popular or unpopular. But do not pressure us to do what is expedient for the sake of being popular. Congress is the wrong chamber for that,” the Speaker added.

According to Cayetano he will insist on prioritizing the creation of the Departments for OFWs, Disaster Management, and Water.

“It is primarily for this reason that we do not see the urgency of a hearing at this point. It will be tedious, contentious, and it threatens to drain the momentum that has allowed the 18th Congress to accomplish so much -- including the historic early passage of the 2020 General Appropriations Act, the Salary Standardization Law for Nurses and Teachers, the Malasakit Centers Act, and many other landmark legislations,” he said.

Earlier, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said already 91 members of the House have signed a resolution urging the House Committee on Legislative Franchises chaired by Palawan Rep. Franz Alvarez to begin the public hearing and expedite the discussion on the 11 measures for the renewal of franchise.

The ABS-CBN franchise will expire on March 30.

But Cayetano reiterated his earlier position that Congress is committed to hold fair hearings at the appropriate time.

He then refreshed the memories of the public that an ABS-CBN franchise bill was first filed in September 2014, during the 16th Congress under President Benigno Aquino IV’s administration.

“During that time it was only heard once and never acted upon. But where was the clamor then? And why, despite President Aquino’s well-known differences with the network, didn’t anyone ask if this had anything to do with why the franchise wasn’t approved?” Cayetano said.

“Now with the 18th Congress barely eight months in, and with the urgent rehabilitation of Marawi, the deadly spread of NCoV, the eruption of Taal, the earthquakes in Mindanao, and so many other issues facing the nation, certain interests want us to set aside so many important, essential and urgent legislative work to give way for a highly divisive franchise issue,” he added.