Speaker appeals for ‘sober’ deliberations on ABS-CBN franchise bill

Published May 27, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Ben Rosario

The House of Representatives will not bow to pressure in deciding on the pending bills for the issuance to ABS-CBN a congressional franchise to resume operations for another 25 years.

This view shows the ABS-CBN network headquarters in Quezon City in the Metro Manila area on May 5, 2020. - The Philippines' top broadcaster ABS-CBN was forced off air on May 5 over a stalled operating licence renewal, drawing fresh charges that authorities were cracking down on press freedom. (Photo by Maria TAN / AFP)
(Photo by Maria TAN / AFP)

Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano gave this assurance as he appealed for calm and sobriety among critics and supporters of the broadcast network that ceased operations after its legislative franchise expired on May 4.

Following Cayetano’s vow of impartiality and fairness on the issue, Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez said House committees will be allowed to continue conducting hearings even during the sine die adjournment that will start June 2.

“We will not be distracted and we will not lose track on shepherding priority legislations that will answer and cater to the needs of the welfare of the people especially in this challenging and difficult times,” said Romualdez.

He urged his colleagues to “work doubly hard” not only in arriving at a decision on the ABS-CBN franchise but also “to craft and put into fruition the passage of the priority measures relative to the fight against the pandemic, and the eventual defeat of COVID-19.”

In his opening remarks at the resumption of the ABS-CBN franchise hearings jointly conducted Tuesday by the House Committees on Legislative Franchises and on Good Government, Cayetano noted that oppositors and supporters of the network have started to accuse each other in an emotionally charged exchange.

“It is wrong to resort to bullying and making threats and insults. Let us respect each other’s opinion,” he said.

The Speaker has lamented that the debate on the ABS-CBN franchise issue has become a “poisoned well” and that the pro and anti sides have resorted to name-calling and throwing insults at each other.

Earlier, he directed the House panels to hold hearings on the franchise applications, with the members committing themselves at ensuring “a fair, impartial, comprehensive, and thorough examination of all the facts regarding this issue.”

“That commitment has not wavered nor changed despite all the criticism that has been thrown at Congress, and at me personally,” he said.

He stressed: “That is un-Filipino, that is not what responsible citizens do. Let’s debate, let us stand for our principles, but let us also love each other.”

At this time of Covid-19 pandemic, we should be united and not divided. We can be passionate in our stand on the ABS-CBN issue, on divorce, on the death penalty, but let us not fight, let us not insult each other, so that our focus will not veer away from Covid-19 and the needs of our people,” he said.