Cayetano wants to tackle ABS-CBN franchise bills in 'sober discussion' in May


Posted at Feb 24 2020 05:14 PM

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MANILA - The House of Representatives eyes tackling measures that will grant ABS-CBN a fresh broadcast franchise after its members reconvene in May, Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said Monday.

Speaking to reporters at the Batasang Pambansa, he said the lower chamber would offer the media giant a "sober, objective and fair" hearing surrounding its franchise renewal hanging in Congress.

Congress will adjourn on March 14 and will resume session on May 4. 

"We want ABS-CBN to get or not get their franchise based on the merits, and we can only go to the merits if we have a sober discussion through a committee hearing," he said.

He added, "I'm confident 'pag nakita 'yong takbo ng hearing sa House, you will say this is the way to do it."

The network's franchise bills, Cayetano said, are "important, but not urgent."

"I would rather that both Houses focus on very urgent legislation. The ABS-CBN has 11,000 jobs, but the CITIRA (Corporate Income Tax and Incentives Reform Act) can produce 1.5 million jobs," he said.

Though the network's franchise expiry nears, Cayetano said ABS-CBN could secure a provisional permit from the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to continue its operations while Congress tackles the measures.

"Sa aming pananaw, a notice from our committee that we are starting the proceedings and they should be allowed to broadcast while we are hearing it is more than sufficient," he said.

During the interview, Cayetano also welcomed the statement of ABS-CBN Corp President and CEO Carlo Katigbak that the network is open to correcting itself if it committed any mistakes.

"We would like to thank ABS-CBN, especially to CEO Carlo Katigbak sa kaniyang statement. It's obvious to us and we expected na sasabihin niya na ipaglalaban ang ABS-CBN and that ABS is about service. So that's well taken," he said.

He added, "Also, it's well taken na sinabi niya na we're not perfect and that they're willing to correct mistakes or listen if there are mistakes. That's the kind of discussion we need."

While hanging in the balance, the ABS-CBN franchise bills should not be a cause for concern, Cayetano said.

"Did they violate the franchise? Did they violate the law? If the answer is no, we grant them the franchise. If the answer is there some violations, ano 'yong akmang penalty? At ano 'yong reforms na maiooffer niyo para hindi na ito maulit muli?" he said.

He added, "Sa akin, gano'n lang kasimple. So I don't think anyone should lose sleep over this. Will you have anxiety, yes. Because gusto natin matapos na. Pero hindi ito matatapos na walang hearing na very sober, very objective at very fair."