Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano buckled to pressure and settled for a compromise grant of a provisionary franchise to ABS-CBN until October 31, 2020, which was approved on second reading in one session day.
The approval came nine days after the network’s franchise expired on May 4, 2020 without any positive action by the House leadership on the 12 pending bills for the renewal of the said franchise.
After a verbiage of rationalization for the undue delay and a sweeping attack on his critics, Cayetano led the Committee of the Whole in recommending the approval of House Bill 6732, “An Act Granting the ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation a Franchise to Construct, Install, Operate and Maintain Television and Radio Broadcasting Stations in the Philippines, and for Other Purposes.”
According to Cayetano and other House leaders who co-authored and sponsored the bill, the ostensible purpose of the measure is to afford more time for a thorough and fair deliberation on the pros and cons of the franchise renewal.
It needs to be underscored that sufficient and reasonable time was already accorded to the House leadership to consider and approve or reject the pending bills before and after the passage of the General Appropriations Bill on December 11, 2019 and before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
There was also time after other priority measures had been approved like the postponement of the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections and the fifth tranche of the Salary Standardization Law.
The Committee of the Whole lost no time in recommending the approval of House Bill 6732 which was approved by the House on second reading on the same day it was sponsored today.
While Cayetano said that today was the “right time” to tackle ABS-CBN’s franchise, the real right time was before the franchise of ABS-CBN expired on May 4, 2020.
EDCEL C. LAGMAN