MANILA - House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said Thursday the Congress' lower chamber may tackle the ABS-CBN broadcast franchise bills either in May or after President Rodrigo Duterte's State of the Nation Address (SONA) in July this year.
"Kasi ang sessions namin ng January to March, maiksi. Ang session namin ng Mayo, maiksi din. Ang pinakamahaba natin is yung July hanggang mag-adjourn ng October," Cayetano told reporters.
(Our session from January to March is short. Our session in May is also short. Our longest is the one beginning July, which will adjourn in October.)
"I'm hoping talaga na May, but latest talaga is right after SONA (or) first week of August, depende sa sitwasyon natin sa May," he said.
(I'm really hoping, in May. But the latest is right after SONA (or) the first week of August, depending on the situation in May.)
Cayetano reiterated there is no need for Congress to rush since ABS-CBN won’t go off the air anyway after its franchise expires on March 30.
More than 10 bills seeking to renew the franchise of ABS-CBN have been filed since July 2019, but the House has yet to tackle any of the proposals, with Cayetano saying the matter is "not that urgent." Congress will adjourn before mid-March.
Sen. Christopher "Bong" Go, an ally of President Rodrigo Duterte, earlier joined the clamor for deliberations on the ABS-CBN franchise, calling on House members to tackle the renewal issue immediately. This despite Duterte's repeated threats to shut down the network.
"I think Sen. Go is echoed by many of our kababayans, not just by ABS-CBN, that they want to see 'yung ending, or yung ano mangyayari sa isyu natin... Hindi telenovela ito eh. Sa telenovela kasi, maganda 'yung bitin, maganda 'yung ending. Inaabangan mo yung season 2 o season 3. But ang congressional hearings ay pinakaeffective 'pag tuloy-tuloy, and then masalang sa plenary," he said.
The Senate, meanwhile, would proceed with its own hearing on ABS-CBN Corp's franchise on Monday, without awaiting action from the House of Representatives, Sen. Grace Poe announced earlier.
Cayetano opposed the move and accused the higher chamber of violating the Constitution, saying proceedings on the ABS-CBN franchise bills should start in the lower chamber.
news.abs-cbn.com is the official news website of ABS-CBN News.
--Report from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News