Velasco douses cold water to fresh bids for revival of ABS-CBN legislative franchise

Published February 11, 2021, 10:30 AM

by Ben Rosario

Time constraints cited

Speaker Lord Allan Velasco extinguished flickering signs of optimism for the revival of the legislative franchise of erstwhile network giant ABS-CBN, declaring Thursday, February 11 that bids to grant it “will have to wait until the next Congress.”

(AFP / MANILA BULLETIN)

Velasco made this announcement  three days after President Rodrigo Duterte declared he will not allow the erstwhile network giant to operate even if Congress decides to grant the network a new 25-year congressional  franchise.

“Calls to revive the franchise of ABS-CBN will have to wait until the next Congress,” Velasco stated yesterday.

Revival of the previously rejected franchise application became obvious when Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III filed on January 4 a bill proposing a fresh franchise for the network.  

Deputy Speaker and Batangas Rep. Vilma Santos and Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman followed by submitting before the Lower House separate legislative proposals for the same purpose.

Last year, the House Committee on Legislative Franchise rejected all bills proposing to grant the franchise.

“With a little over a year until the 2022 elections, the House of Representatives is bent on finishing the remaining priority measures of this Administration to ensure that President Rodrigo Roa Duterte fulfills his campaign promise to the Filipino people,” said Velasco.

The House leader identified Bayanihan 3 as among the top priority legislation that the House is currently working on.

“On top of these priority legislation, we would like to see the passage of Bayanihan 3, as well as other economic bills geared toward rebuilding the Philippine economy shattered by the devastating impact of the global pandemic and rebuilding the lives of every Filipino disrupted by the health crisis,” said Velasco on Thursday.

On January 28, Palawan Rep. Franz Alvarez, chairman of the House Committee on Legislative Franchise, declared that ABS-CBN’s bid to return to the air waves is no longer feasible and that it should revive it instead in the next Congress and under a new president.

“The ABS-CBN franchise issue was put to rest when the Committee, voting 70-11, rejected the network’s franchise application on July 10, 2020,” said Alvarez.

After the voting, the HOuse panel also approved a motion to lay the ABS CBN bills on the table.

Alvarez  explained that the only possibility that the ABS-CBN issue can be taken up again by the  legislative franchise panel is for one of the 70 solons who rejected the franchise bills to file a motion for reconsideration.

“Under the rules, anyone of the 70 House members who voted against the franchise application could file a motion for reconsideration on behalf of ABS-CBN to challenge the decision of the Committee. Unfortunately, there was none, thus the Committee decision has become final,” said Alvarez.

He added: “Based on my understanding from the House leadership, the ABS-CBN franchise issue is best left to the next Congress.” 

 
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