Depending on the will and predisposition of Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, a bill can be approved with inordinate alacrity or can languish in virtual perpetuity.
Thus, the approval of House Bill No. 6732 granting provisional authority to ABS-CBN up to October 31, 2020 was done in blitzkrieg fashion on the same day it was filed and sponsored on May 13, 2020.
House Bill No. 6732 was principally authored and personally sponsored by Cayetano.
The express approval by the House of Representatives of the interim franchise was accomplished by converting the House into the Committee of the Whole, which was the same medium used in approving in one special session day the “Bayanihan Act” or RA No. 11469
This kind of fast-tracking could have been done much earlier in the committee on legislative franchises upon the directive of the Speaker by considering and deliberating on the 12 bills proposing for the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise.
Instead, the House leadership temporized action on the measures until the network’s franchise expired on May 4, 2020.
The seasonable action of the House leadership could have averted the adverse consequences of the franchise expiration like the stoppage of ABS-CBN’s operations, the denial to the public of access to vital information on the current COVID-19 pandemic, displacement of thousands of ABS-CBN employees and related workers and talents, and derogation of the freedom of the press.
The approval of HB 6732 by the House of Representatives will not automatically restore the operations of ABS-CBN because the bill has to be enacted into law after the concurrence of the Senate and the approval of the President.
Meanwhile, the House leadership is urged to commence consideration of the pending bills and resolve the alleged violations by ABS-CBN of its franchise before the projected provisional franchise would lapse after October 31, 2020 or five (5) months from now.
EDCEL C. LAGMAN