By Charissa Luci-Atienza
The 48-strong Visayan bloc of the House of Representatives continues to rally behind the leadership of Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and his position on national issues, including the franchise renewal of broadcast giant ABS-CBN, Cebu Rep. Vincent Franco “Duke” Frasco said on Saturday (Feb. 29).
The chairman of the House committee on Visayas development belied claims that the Visayan bloc sought the immediate resolution of the issue concerning ABS-CBN as declared by former Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo Benitez.
“With due respect to former Cong. Benitez, I can speak as chairman of the Visayas development committee that my fellow Visayas representatives stand solidly behind Speaker Alan in observing the protocol and courtesy due to our fellow representatives in the committee on franchises before whom the ABS CBN franchise matter has been presented” Frasco said in a statement.
(The) “Visayas bloc remains fully supportive of Speaker Alan, who has demonstrated the kind of leadership, dedication, and service to the people that we need to restore the public’s trust and confidence in the House of Representatives,” he said.
The House leader cited that his colleagues from Visayan bloc “strongly believe” that under Cayetano’s leadership, the House has been “transformed into a more responsive and more responsible legislative chamber.”
“We will continue to heed the Speaker’s guidance, as we believe that his fair and uncompromising stand on issues such as the ABS-CBN franchise renewal is the appropriate way of handling such concerns,” Frasco said.
He said the Visayan bloc agreed with Cayetano there were far more urgent matters that have to be discussed by Congress, including measures on how to mitigate the impact of the global new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak on the economy.
Frasco said he respects former Rep. Benitez’s personal position that the House should urgently act on the issue.
Cayetano had rejected calls for the Lower Chamber to immediately decide on ABS-CBN’s franchise, even as he assured the broadcast giant that it can still operate even if its franchise lapses on May 4.
The House has submitted a letter to the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) “enjoining” it to allow the continued operation of the ABS-CBN beyond May 4, while the deliberation of franchise bills is ongoing.