By Ben Rosario
It is not the 18th Congress but the past ones that should be blamed for the miseries of the shutdown ABS-CBN network.
Anakalusugan Rep. Mike Defensor, chairman of the House Committee on Public Trust, made this statement as he defended the current House leadership from blame for the decision of the National Telecommunications Commission to issue a cease and desist order against the continued operation of the giant TV network.
Defensor chided colleagues for finding it “convenient to agree” with the Solicitor General Jose Calida and Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo for blaming the current House leadership for allowing the expiration of the ABS-CBN legislative franchise last May 4.
He noted that the ABS-CBN franchise extension bill had been languishing at the legislative backburners since 2014 during the time of ‘Speaker Belmonte and President Aquino.”
“Unfortunately, those who cry foul the hardest are those who were already members of Congress when ABS-CBN first applied for their renewal,” Defensor stated.
He was apparently referring to independent Reps. Lito Atienza (Buhay Partylist) and Edcel Lagman (LP, Albay) who defended the NTC decision while assailing Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano for refusing to heed their advice for early action on ABS-CBN’s application for franchise renewal.
“Frankly, I am baffled by this sentiment,” said Defensor.
Defensor said Congress should have its hands full with more important bills, instead of a “private bill that has been languishing in these chambers for the past two administrations.
He clarified that before the nearly two-month Lenten break, the House leadership already sought “and secured” a consensus among the Senate, the Department of Justice and the NTC on how to proceed with the franchise hearings.
Requested by Cayetano and Palawan Rep. Franz Alvarez to issue a provisional permit for ABS-CBN’s post franchise operation, NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba assured the House leadership that the Kapamilya network will be granted that privilege.
Instead, the NTC issued on Tuesday a cease and desist order against the network.