By Ellson Quismorio
Partido Demokratiko Pilipino–Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) spokesperson, Rep. Johnny Pimentel (Surigao del Sur, 2nd district) said solely blaming House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano for the lapse of the ABS-CBN franchise is unfair.
“I don’t think that’s fair because Congress (House of Representatives) is a collegial body,” said Pimentel, a Deputy Speaker in the 302-strong chamber.
“Whatever it decides on a subject matter is voted upon by the majority [of House members],” the Mindanao lawmaker pointed out.
The House leadership is drawing flak from both inside and outside Batasan Complex for not acting on bills calling for the extension of ABS-CBN’s franchise for another 25 years in a timely manner.
The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) issued a cease and desist order against ABS-CBN on Tuesday, a day after its operating franchise lapsed, prompting the broadcast network to sign off the air and cease operations.
“The cease and desist order by NTC was an offshoot of the statement by the Office of the Solicitor General that cases will be filed against them if they issue a provisional authority,” said Pimentel, who belongs to the same party as President Duterte.
Pimentel added that the ABS-CBN franchise issue was a convoluted one and that there was no simple solution for it, especially with the additional layer of complication brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.
It will be recalled that NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba promised before members of the House Committee on Legislative Franchises last March 10 that the regulatory body would issue a provisional authority for ABS-CBN to continue its media operations pending the renewal of its franchise.
The House began a two-month summer recess the next day. Then on March 15, President Duterte placed Luzon under an Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) in a bid to control the spread of the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
The legislative franchises panel chaired by Palawan 1st district Rep. Franz Alvarez is responsible for acting on franchise renewal bills.
Pimentel also underscored that the NTC had in the past allowed other entities with expired franchises to continue their operations while lawmakers worked on their franchise renewal.
“ABS-CBN is being singled out…why they did not grant a provisional authority?” he further asked.
Cayetano belongs to the Nacionalista Party and was President Duterte’s running mate in the 2016 national polls.
READ MORE: NTC orders ABS-CBN to stop operations