If 71 solons choose to remain undecided, ABS-CBN will win 10 in favor, 8 against

Published July 8, 2020, 9:30 PM

by Ben Rosario

If 71 congressmen choose to remain undecided on the legislative franchise application of ABS-CBN when voting on the issue takes place on Thursday, July 9, the giant network will win 10 in favor and eight against in order to get back on the air.

This was gathered as several informed sources disclosed that lobby for or against the proposed franchise bills were reported to go on high gear on the eve of the expected voting day.

Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano denied that House members and religious groups have been actively campaigning to influence the decision of voters.

“It is completely false and is an unproductive exercise in trying to manipulate the vote to favor a particular decision,” said Cayetano as he assailed the alleged black propaganda and fake news on the issues that have been circulating in the social media.

Of the 89 members of the House of Representatives who are qualified to vote on the 11 bills seeking to grant ABS-CBN another 25 year congressional franchise, only 18 may have already reached a decision on the issue.

After conducting 12 hearings, the House Committee on Legislative Franchises is scheduled to present on Thursday afternoon summations for and against the bills and may immediately vote on the bills.

There are 46 regular members of the House panel chaired by Palawan Rep. Franz Alvarez.  All are qualified voters.

On the other hand, 22 deputy speakers and 21 leaders of the majority and the minority blocs, including Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, are also allowed to vote as ex officio members of the House panel.

Of the 89 qualified voters, 74 have not actively participated in the interpellation conducted on ABS-CBN executives and their lawyers.   Thus, these congresspersons will be the targets of intense lobby.

Those who did, at least 18 of them, have given away clues of their position on the issue.

Based on their line of questioning and statements during the hearing, the following will strongly back ABS-CBN’s return:  Deputy Minority Leader Carlos Zarate and Reps. Gabriel Bordado, Alfredo Garbin, Micaela Violago and Sol Aragones.

Authors of the pending bills are also going affirmative.  They are: Deputy Speakers Loren Legarda, Aurelio Gonzales, Rosemarie Arenas, Johnny Ty-Pimentel and Vilma Santos-Recto.

As shown by their demeanor during the hearings, fierce critics who are expected to thumb down the franchise measures are: Deputy Speakers Rodante Marcoleta and Dan Fernandez; Deputy Majority Leader Crispin Remulla and Reps. Claudine Bautista and Abraham Tolentino, committee vice chairman.

Minority Leader and Manila Rep. Bienvenido Abante had raised moral issues on various ABS-CBN telenovelas, thus, may reject the franchise extension proposal. 

Although he did not participate in the hearings jointly conducted by the House Committee on Good Government and on Legislative Franchises, Deputy Speaker and Davao City Rep. Paolo Duterte authored a resolution calling for a good government probe against ABS-CBN’s alleged violations of provisions of its previous legislative franchise.

Cayetano, on the other hand, also harbored a grudge against the network that had smarted accusations of political bias.  

“We have heard the Speaker talk about the issue on the alleged media bias and political meddling by ABS-CBN many times and how it happened during the 2016 elections especially because he was the running mate of President Duterte,” said Bulacan Rep. Jose Antonio Sy Alvarado, chairman of the good government panel.