'Pag gusto, may paraan': 2 weeks enough for House to tackle ABS-CBN franchise before break, solons say

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 27 2020 04:28 PM | Updated as of Feb 27 2020 07:11 PM

Hundreds of ABS-CBN employees and supporters march around the network's headquarters on Feb. 21, 2020 to protest against a government move to shut down the media giant. Larry Monserate Piojo, ABS-CBN

ABS-CBN fate should be independent of Duterte's acceptance of apology: solon 

MANILA (UPDATE) - The House of Representatives has enough time to tackle bills granting ABS-CBN Corp a fresh 25-year broadcast franchise before going on its Lenten break, lawmakers from the Makabayan bloc said Thursday.

Issuing ABS-CBN a new franchise, after the expiration of its current one on May 4, is the only way to assure that the network can continue operating, and not the provisional permit from the National Telecommunications Commission, said Kabataan Party-list Rep. Sarah Elago. 

Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Ferdinand Gaite notes there are roughly 2 weeks left before Congress adjourns by March 14.

“Meron pang oras para dinggin, kaya dapat 'wag nang magsayang ng panahon dahil wala naman assurance sa provisional franchise na mago-operate pa rin ang ABS-CBN,” Elago told reporters. 

(There is still time to hear the bills so we shouldn't waste time because there is no assurance that ABS-CBN can still operate under a provisional franchise.) 

"Alam naman natin sa atin na kung gusto, may paraan, kung ayaw may isang milyon na dahilan,” added Gaite.

(We know that if there's a will, there's a way; but if we don't want something, there can be a million excuses.) 

Laguna 3rd District Rep. Sol Aragones urged the House panel tasked to handle the franchise bid of ABS-CBN to start taking up the pending bills, one of which she authored.

"Tingin ko, kakayanin naman 'yong huling mga araw at linggo sa Kongreso, kasi iba pa rin 'yong talagang na-renew 'yong franchise," she said.

(I think we can still tackle the bills in the next few days and weeks because it's still different when the franchise is renewed.)

DUTERTE'S APOLOGY ACCEPTANCE 

ABS-CBN president and CEO Carlo Katigbak on Monday apologized if the company "offended” President Rodrigo Duterte over a 2016 election ad that showed the then Davao City mayor cursing and several children asking if his actions were right.

The network was “just abiding by the laws and regulations that surround the airing of political ads,” Katigbak said during a Senate hearing into ABS-CBN's franchise compliance. 
 
Before the public apology, Duterte made several public pronouncements opposing ABS-CBN's franchise.

On Wednesday, he accepted the apology and told the network to give the refund for his campaign ads that did not air, to "any charitable institution of their choice." He also left the franchise issue to Congress.

Aragones, a former ABS-CBN reporter, was elated that the President accepted the network's apology.

"Nakakaluwag ng damdamin no'ng malaman natin na tinanggap ng Pangulong Duterte 'yong paumanhin o paghingi ng sorry ng ABS-CBN," she said.

(It's comforting to know that President Duterte accepted ABS-CBN's apology.)

Elago of the Kabataan party-list said Duterte's acceptance of the apology should not be a consideration for granting the country's largest media and entertainment company a new franchise.

“Kung tinataganggap man o hindi, dapat hindi dun nakabatay ang pagiging hakbang ng Kongreso, dahil ang Kongreso ay independent mula sa executive,” Elago said.

(Whether or not he accepted it, that shouldn't be the basis of Congress action because Congress is independent from the executive.)

COUP PLOT BREWING? 

Meanwhile, Bayan Muna's Gaite denied that the Makabayan bloc, which favors granting ABS-CBN a new franchise, is part of a supposed plot to oust House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano. 

“Walang pinag-uusapan ang Makabayan bloc tungkol sa coup na yan. Ang gusto natin, yung usapin ng ABS franchise ay matalakay,” Gaite said.
 
(The Makabayan bloc is not talking about that alleged coup. What we want is for the ABS franchise to be discussed.) 

Cayetano earlier said hearings into ABS-CBN's franchise was "not that urgent" because the network can continue operating until 2022, when the 18th Congress ends. 

He earlier said the lower chamber planned to tackle the ABS-CBN franchise bills when lawmakers convene in May to give the network a "fair" hearing.

"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," Cayetano said.

On Thursday, he claimed that Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco was behind a plot to oust him from the speakership, which the latter denied.

 news.abs-cbn.com is the official news website of ABS-CBN Corp. 

-- - With a report from Jeff Canoy, ABS-CBN News