Speaker: House proper venue

February 15, 2020

WHILE waiting for the schedule of hearing on the ABS-CBN franchise renewal, Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano is urging critics and supporters of the radio-television network to send to the House of Representatives their position papers and comments on the network’s petition.

Cayetano vowed an impartial consideration of bills seeking to renew ABS-CBN’s franchise.

According to Cayetano, these comments should be formally submitted to the proper forum, which is the House of Representatives and not just social and mainstream media.

“So, what I request is we join the issues. All those opposed to renewing the franchise, submit your comments to the House Committee on Legislative Franchises, which will forward these to ABS-CBN so they can already respond. That’s the way our democracy works,” Cayetano said.

He noted that Solicitor General Jose Calida has ventilated the government’s complaints against the network in the quo warranto petition the latter filed with the Supreme Court.

“On one hand, I would rather the SolGen did not file it. But on the other hand, at least, people are now talking about the issues. As for me, I am open-minded. I have read the reply of ABS-CBN to the SolGen and I am waiting for their official comment,” he said.

The Supreme Court has given the network 10 days to submit an answer.

“I think this is the way to find a solution. Welcome the issues against ABS-CBN, but also welcome their reply, so that we can finally get somewhere with all of these,” Cayetano stressed.

At the same time, the Speaker urged all stakeholders to not equate press freedom with the ABS-CBN franchise.

He said press freedom would not die if the station’s broadcasting privilege were not renewed.

“If press freedom is automatic, then there should be no more hearings in Congress (on the ABS-CBN franchise). We will just have to grant it automatically. But no, Congress has to legislate it. In America, a radio-TV station can endorse a candidate in an election. They have their own law. In our case, we have the Fair Elections Act, which contains a right of reply provision,” he said.