Sotto defends ABS franchise bill

Published January 9, 2021, 4:19 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Saturday brushed aside criticisms on Senate Bill No. 1967 seeking the renewal of the legislative franchise of ABS-CBN.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III (Joseph Vidal/Senate PRIB/ MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

In an interview over radio DWIZ, Sotto said naysayers were quick to reject his Senate Bill No. 1967 when they should first look into the intent behind the proposal to give the broadcast network a fresh, 25-year franchise.

He said people have also observed the “mediocrity” of other television stations after ABS-CBN ceased its operations last year.

“Biglang napalitan, mga naging anime, mga soap, at saka mga pelikula ng Koreano para bang nawalan ng competition (Programs were replaced with animes, soap opera, and movies that are mostly Korean that it looked like there was no more competition). Sabi ko ‘pag ganyan, ibalik na lang nila ABS, ‘di ba, para may healthy competition pa rin (So I said if that’s what would happen, might as well bring back ABS-CBN, so there is still healthy competition),” he said.

Sotto said senators are well aware that franchise bills should come from the House of Representatives. He said that filing of the bill serves as a “smoke signal” for new House leadership to look into the possibility of its passage this time.

“Sa amin, senyales lang ‘yon, smoke signal na, ‘Pag-aralan niyo nga ‘di maganda ang kompetisyon nangyayari ngayon. Tignan niyo nga’ (To us, it’s just a signal, a smoke signal to tell the congressmen: ‘Please look into this, there is no competition among television stations today. Please check),” he said.

The Senate bill could easily be amended to resolve other issues that have been raised against it, Sotto said.

The Senate leader had expressed optimism that the franchise renewal of ABS-CBN “could have a better chance” under the leadership of House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco.

Under House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano’s term, bills on the renewal of the ABS-CBN’s franchise languished until it expired in May 2020. The House committee tackling the bill officially rejected the network’s franchise bid in July.

Aside from Sotto, 16 other senators were listed as co-authors of the SB No. 1967.