House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Monday said he had personal complaints over the bills that seek to renew the ABS-CBN Corporation franchise, though he promised that House will be fair in approaching the measure.
“People like me, I also have some objections [about the extension]. I’ll tell you, this is my personal [opinion], okay?” he said in an interview with ABS-CBN’s cable news channel, ANC.
ABS-CBN’s 25-year license will expire on March 30, 2020, but Cayetano said this was not considered a priority in the legislation in the meantime.
“On one hand I feel that we have to protect the freedom of the press and freedom of expression; on the other hand, I feel that there’s certain instances in history, and in the 2016 election, that some sectors or leaders of ABS interfered unjustly,” he said.
“So how do you sort it out? Like right now, we can debate that, and of course, you will stand up for the network but I’d rather have it in a hearing, straight talk, face to face, and talk about it,” Cayetano told ANC Headstart host Karen Davila.
However, the lawmaker promised that they will come up with a conclusion that will be “acceptable to everyone but will be good for the country.”
According to him, allowing the House legislative franchises committee to hold a hearing and discuss issues concerning the media network. That way, the public will know who’s right or wrong.
“And I’m not referring to the President because didn’t the President say he will file an objection? So that’s between ABS-CBN and the President, because I’m sure the President has legitimate criticisms,” Cayetano added.
6 bills filed for ABS-CBN franchise renewal
Six bills seeking ABS-CBN franchise renewal have already been filled; however, the House panel chaired by Palawan Rep. Franz Alvarez has not yet scheduled the measure for discussion.
Previously, the House of Representative sidelined such bill after the President Rodrigo Duterte criticized the broadcast giant.
In the Philippines, broadcasting companies, particularly radio and television, are required to pursue franchise from the Congress, in accordance with Republic Act No. 3846.
The Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, on the other hand, said this kind of setup is a weapon to manipulate the media.
Since he assumed his position, Duterte had consistently threatened ABS-CBN to block its franchise renewal, lashing the network for rejecting his own paid ad and for running a negative ad against him during his presidential campaign in 2016.
The President has the power to veto the bill passed by Congress, but the two chambers can revoke it through a two-thirds vote.