By Ben Rosario
Strong doubts over the approval of a provisional legislative franchise for the ABS-CBN continued to hound leaders of the House of Representatives as the chamber prepares to pass the measure on third and final reading next week.
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman called for the reconsideration of the second reading approval of House Bill 6732 “to cleanse” the measure of constitutional infirmity.
On the other hand, ABS-CBN critic lawyer Larry Gadon predicted Malacanang’s rejection of the bill that was read on first reading and approved on second reading during an unprecedented plenary session on Wednesday
Gadon said President Duterte “knows his law” and will require a comprehensive study of the constitutionality and other legal issues that may arise from the alleged “railroaded” passage of the measure.
“The violation of Section 26 (2) of Article VI of the Constitution is just too glaring, I don’t think the bill will pass the president’s legal scrutiny,” Gadon said.
Deputy Speaker and Mandaluyong Rep. Neptali Gonzales defended the Wednesday decision made by the Lower House, saying that no constitutional provision was violated.
Section 26 of Article VI states that “No bill passed by either House shall become a law unless it has passed three readings on separate days, and printed copies thereof in its final form have been distributed to its Members three days before its passage, except when the President certifies to the necessity of its immediate enactment to meet a public calamity or emergency.”
“To cleanse the passage of HB No. 6732 granting a provisional franchise to ABS-CBN of any constitutional infirmity and to accommodate a longer effectivity of at least one year for the interim franchise, a motion to reconsider the approval on second reading of the said bill can be seasonably filed on Monday, May 18, 2020,” Lagman proposed.
He pointed out that the second reading approval of the measure has raised “serious constitutional challenge”.
“This provision is restated almost verbatim in Section 58 of Rule X of the Rules of the House,” Lagman explained.
He pointed out that HB6732 which was authored by Cayetano and several other House leaders, has not been certified “as urgent by the President” as to be expedited by the House.
It will be recalled that after being read on first reading on Wednesday, HB6732 was immediately passed and reported out by the House plenary that transformed itself into a committee of the whole.
On the same day, the bill, which will allow ABS-CBN to resume operations until October 31, was passed on second reading during the virtual plenary session.
To address the issue, Lagman said the House leadership should give way to Section 103 of Rule SXIII of the House Rules that allows a motion for reconsideration of the second reading approval of HB 6732.
“After the timely reconsideration, and with possible introduction of amendments to House Bill No. 6732, the bill can be approved on second reading on May 18, 2020, which is a separate session day,” he stressed.