MANILA - The House of Representatives' inaction on measures renewing ABS-CBN's franchise is "bordering on illegality," a lawmaker said Sunday.
Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza said discussing the network's license to operate was a "responsibility" of Congress, and not a matter of discretion.
"Natutulog yung papeles dun sa drawer nung Committee on Franchises (The documents are stuck in the drawer of the Committee on Franchises). That to me is bordering on illegality," he told radio DZMM.
"Meron tayong mga batas na sulat lamang, kailangan sinasagot ng gobyerno eh. Yung application for any permit (sa) local government units, national government, kailangan inaaksyunan. Ito'y talagang nagmamatigas ang ating Speaker. Ayaw niyang takeup-in."
(We have laws mandating government to respond even just to letters. Applications for any permit at the local government units, the national government must be acted upon. But here, the Speaker is taking a hard position that he doesn't want to take this up.)
Atienza said most congressmen he talked to support the renewal of the network's franchise, while "definitely all are for taking up the issue."
"Gawin natin ang trabaho natin (Let's do our job). Otherwise, we will be branded as a useless House of Representatives, which is unfair to the greater majority of the members who are for working and performing our tasks, but pinipigil ng (is deterred by the) committee at (and) leadership," he said.
"It’s a bad reflection on the leadership of Speaker (Alan Peter) Cayetano."
Atienza said he believes Rep. Franz Alvarez, who chairs the Committee on Legislative Franchises, is just following orders from higher-ups, quoting him to have said, "Wala akong magawa eh (I can't do anything)."
Cayetano, Duterte's staunch ally, has said that while tackling the ABS-CBN franchise renewal is important, it is "not that urgent" as he agrees with views that the network may continue to operate past the expiry of its existing franchise on March 30.
Atienza, meantime, said the chamber could pass ABS-CBN's franchise within a day if it wants to. He notes lawmakers only have seven remaining session days ahead of the expiry of the current franchise.
"Marami silang pinasang prangkisa na alangan, pero in one day, tapos yung prangkisa," Atienza said.
(The House has approved a number of franchises in one day.)
The House leadership carries the "burden and responsibility of the congressional integrity as an institution," Atienza stressed.
The Senate on Monday is set to tackle issues hounding the network's franchise, even as the House has yet to act on several bills seeking to grant a fresh 25-year franchise for ABS-CBN.
news.abs-cbn.com is the official news website of ABS-CBN.