Fate of ABS-CBN franchise likely known next week

Published July 5, 2020, 9:31 AM

by Ben Rosario

The fate of the ABS-CBN legislative franchise is expected to be known next week or before the special session of Congress after a joint congressional panel shall have concluded its inquiry into the network’s operations.

A well-informed source disclosed that the House Committee on Legislative Franchises, which is jointly conducting the inquiry with the Committee on Good Government, said leaders of the two panels are eyeing Monday as the last day of the hearings, after which the former will prepare to vote on the network giant’s application for a legislative franchise.

Expected to take up much of the committee debate, albeit limited to the legislative franchise panel, is a proposal to conduct secret balloting on whether or not ABS-CBN should be allowed to reopen and broadcast for another 25 years.

However, Palawan Rep. Franz Alvarez, chairman of the legislative franchises panel, said there remains no plans yet for voting.

“Depende pa iyan if matapos na sa Monday ang hearing (It will depend on whether the hearing will be concluded on Monday),” said Alvarez in a text message.

A source claimed that the House leadership is eyeing to resolve the ABS-CBN franchise issue before the planned special session of Congress takes place “a week or two” prior to the State of the Nation Address of President Duterte.

“This is the reason hearings were conducted successively last week,” the congressional source added.

Despite the holding of joint hearings on the ABS-CBN issue, the two House panels will vote separately on the issues raised for and against the network.

The good government panel chaired by Bulacan Rep. Jose Antonio Sy Alvarado is expected to conduct deliberations on its probe of the complaints against ABS-CBN. Committee members will vote only on the approval of the committee report embodying the findings of the inquiry.

On the other hand, the legislative franchise panel may also conduct deliberations before finally voting on whether or not it will endorse the grant of a 25-year legislative franchise for the embattled network. The House panel, one of the more influential committees in the chamber, is composed of 46 regular members.

House officials, numbering over 30, are also entitled to vote as ex-officio members of the committee.