Speaker says ABS-CBN franchise renewal will have to wait for next Congress

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 11 2021 10:06 AM

Speaker Lord Allan Velasco on Thursday said calls to revive the franchise of ABS-CBN will have to wait until the next Congress. 

In a statement, Velasco said the House of Representatives is bent on finishing the remaining priority measures of the Duterte administration with a little over a year before the 2022 elections. 

"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," he said. 

Velasco's statement came after President Rodrigo Duterte said he will not allow the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to issue a permit to operate to ABS-CBN even if Congress renewed the network’s franchise. 

In a televised meeting on government's COVID-19 response, the President said he knew of plans to give the network a chance to use free TV and radio frequencies again after a congressional committee last year rejected the renewal of its lapsed franchise.

Several lawmakers have filed bills seeking to revive the broadcast franchise of ABS-CBN, including Deputy Speaker Vilma Santos, Camarines Sur 3rd District Rep. Gabriel Bordado, and Senate President Vicente Sotto III.

Duterte said the Lopezes must first settle their alleged tax liability - a claim that the Bureau of Internal Revenue had long debunked.

At last year’s House hearings on the ABS-CBN franchise, BIR Assistant Commissioner Manuel Mapoy told lawmakers said ABS-CBN had been regularly paying its corporate taxes for the past years and that "there is no outstanding delinquent accounts as we speak."

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