MANILA - If he could have it his way, House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano wants the House of Representatives to make a decision on the broadcast franchise of ABS-CBN Corp. as soon as possible.
This, as lawmakers on Monday reopened debates on a bill seeking to get ABS-CBN back on the air by granting a temporary franchise through October this year.
According to Cayetano, he wants the decision on the bill to be made by Tuesday or Wednesday, since there are still a lot of urgent issues to focus on.
"I don't want to go beyond tomorrow sana. At worst case, Wednesday. Why? Because first, may COVID-19 (crisis) eh. Kailangan nating tutukan talaga ang pangangailangan ng tao (We need to focus on people's needs)," he said.
"Number 2, tinitingnan ko yung calendar. Kung papaboran 'tong bill na to, (Number 2, I'm looking at the calendar. If we pass this bill) we only have 2 weeks more after Wednesday to pass it, because we have to give the Senate a week and a half. Make or break, tomorrow or Wednesday," Cayetano added.
For Cayetano, ABS-CBN's broadcasting franchise issue is dividing lawmakers, making it difficult for them to come up with a decision. Some lawmakers are in favor of giving the network a 6-month franchise, while others want to go straight to giving it a fresh 25-year franchise.
"I would like to see it that way pero sa sobrang politically contentious nito, galit sa akin ang pro, galit din sa akin ang anti, hindi ko alam ang nasa kalooban ng bawat miyembro," he said.
(I would like to see it that way but this issue is so politically contentious, the pros hate me, the antis hate me. I don't know what each member thinks.)
'Just because there's a majority who signed, or the Speaker who sponsored, hindi necessary na ibig sabihin na 'yan na ang papasa (it does not necessarily mean it will be passed)," Cayetano added.
He appealed for understanding, both from the members of the House of Representatives and the public, as they continue to discuss the issue.
"We have a national health crisis. Lahat po tayo apektado ang lives and livelihood. Maraming issues, divorce, federalism, constitutional change, foreign ownership, ABS-CBN ang puwedeng maghati-hati sa atin. So we will get the consensus of the majority or all the congressmen and then sana magsama-sama tayong labanan 'yung COVID," he said.
(We have a national health crisis. All our lives and livelihood are affected. We have a lot of issues, divorce, federalism, constitutional change, foreign ownership, and the ABS-CBN issue may divide us. So we will get the consensus of the majority or all the congressmen and then let us all unite to fight COVID.)
"I'm hoping we can come up with the wisest decision possible but it's getting harder and harder habang masyadong personalan ang ating talakayan (while the discussion becomes more personal)," Cayetano added.
House Bill No 6732 was passed on first and second reading on the same day last week, before the House of Representatives reopened the debate on Monday.