SPEAKER Alan Peter Cayetano is not blinking and standing pat on his decision to discuss the ABS-CBN Corporation renewal of franchise at a later date.
In an interview after attending an event in Zambales, Cayetano said the best time for the House Committee on Legislative Franchises to discuss bills on franchise renewal of the television network is either in May or August this year.
The franchise of ABS-CBN will expire on March 30.
“May or July. Sorry. August, kasi last week, dahil dun sa huling linggo ng July more on SONA yun. So right after SONA, objectively is early August,” Cayetano said when asked for the schedule of the hearing.
Currently, there are 11 pending measures seeking renewal of franchise of ABS-CBN Corporation. The last bill was filed by Deputy Speaker and Antique Rep. Loren Legarda, a former newscaster of the network.
According to Cayetano, the members of the House agreed to have more time in discussing the issue since there are a lot of individuals and stakeholders who have expressed their intention to participate in the franchise discussion.
The House leader said the franchise issue is not urgent and that they are devoting the last weeks of this session to other pressing matters pending in the plenary like the bills on the creation of the Departments of OFW, Water and Disaster Resilience.
Congress will adjourn on March 20 for the Lenten break and will resume session on May 6.
“Ang pinakamahaba natin is yung July hanggang mag-adjourn ng October. Hindi ito teleserye na magandang bitin. Kung mag-hearing tayo ng dalawang linggo, at kulang ‘yung oras tapos magre-recess tayo, o kahit hindi mag-recess, during the recess mag-hearing, hindi mo naman madadala sa plenaryo, walang mangyayari. So, unlike teleserye na medyo lamang ang network pagka maganda ang ending at medyo bitin, hinahanap-hanap mo ‘yung season 2. Pero dito sa Kongreso, in my experience, mas mabuti, ‘pag inumpisahan na natin, tapusin na natin,” he further explained.
Earlier, Sen. Bong Go urged House members to open the discussion to once and for all listen to the issues behind the franchise.
The Senate will have its hearing on the franchise on February 24.
This prompted Cayetano to criticize Sen. Grace Poe, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Public Services, for opening a franchise hearing when the procedure is that it should emanate from the House.
“Nagtataka lang ako kay Senator Grace Poe at sa mga senador, kapag cha-cha pinag-usapan, ayaw nila; ‘wag daw muna pag-usapan, pero they feel free to violate the Constitution. Ano ba sabi sa Constitution? Sa’n ba mag-uumpisa ang prangkisa? Sa House o sa Senate? Kaya sang-ayon ako dun kay Senate President Sotto nung sinabi niyang, “Anong ihi-hear mo?” Kasi ‘pag dineny namin, wala siyang ihi-hear. ‘Pag in-approve namin, e ‘di may records na siya ng lahat ng nagsabing gusto at hindi, at 300 mahigit ang kongresista,” Cayetano added.
Meanwhile, ACT-CIS Rep. Eric Go Yap challenged ABS-CBN to resolve its internal issue such as regularization, non-payment of back wages and illegal dismissal.
“Hinihikayat natin ang ABS CBN na panindigan at patunayan na sila ay tunay na “In the Service of the Filipino People” sa pamamagitan ng pag-regular sa humigit kumulang na 11,000 nilang empleyado,” Yap said.
“Kung totoong kapakanan ng tao ang iniisip ng ABS CBN, bakit hindi nila unahin ang karapatan ng mga empleyado nila at ipakita na seryoso sila sa sinasabing service para sa Pilipino,” he added.