MANILA (UPDATED) — The House of Representatives on Tuesday should vote on the proposed provisional franchise for ABS-CBN Corp. and defer deliberations on allegations against the country's top broadcaster, a lawmaker said.
House members will have 5 months to tackle the issues if they approve the bill that will let ABS-CBN resume its broadcast operations until Oct. 31, said Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez.
"I will request our leadership na when we resume, tapos na iyong deliberation. Marami nang salita e (much has been said). We should go to the amendents and after the amendments, pagbotohan na on second reading," he told DZMM.
"We don't need to delay on that," he added.
The House last week approved the bill on first and second reading on the same day, which Rodriguez said was unconstitutional. Bills in the House should pass 3 readings on separate days, he said.
Lawmakers "cured" this when they recalled the second reading approval of the bill on Monday, said Rodriguez. The House will resume deliberations later Tuesday.
Rodriguez said he would question a provision in the bill that required ABS-CBN to give 10 percent of its advertisement airtime to the government for free.
While the franchises of GMA-7 and TV-5 have the same provision, many other media outfits do not, he said.
"Hindi iyan (that is not) equal protection of the laws," Rodriguez said.
"Ang better gawin dito (the better move here) is to make a general law na all previous and existing franchise holder, if they want to have that 10 percent, it will be equal to everyone," he added.
The National Telecommunications Commission, under oath, told lawmakers in March that it would let the country's top broadcaster to operate provisionally beyond the May 4 expiration of its license, while bills for its franchise renewal stalled in Congress.
But on May 5, days after Solicitor General Jose Calida warned NTC officials that they could face graft charges if they gave ABS-CBN a provisional permit, the regulatory agency ordered the 65-year-old media outfit to stop its broadcast operations due to its expired license.
Senators said they would pass the bill granting a provisional franchise before the Congress break in June, after which it would go to the Office of the President for signing.
ABS-CBN temporary franchise 'safer to pass' - Abante
Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Bienvenido Abante said it would be safer to pass a temporary franchise for ABS-CBN for now as he assured the network the chamber would complete its debate on the measure within the week.
Lawmakers had decided to recall the passage of House Bill No 6732 on second reading since it was passed on the same day last week, raising concerns that it might be deemed unconstitutional since the law required approval on “separate days.”
Abante said debate on the bill was reopened so all lawmakers may air their take on the issue since these were not raised last week.
He added it would be "easier" for the House to pass a provisional franchise for ABS-CBN instead of a fresh 25-year license to operate. "The priority right now is to pass the provisional franchise which I think is safer than trying to shelve it and putting it into the committee," he told ANC.
Abante earlier sought the abolition of the National Telecommunications Commission for reneging on its commitment to allow ABS-CBN to operate beyond its lapsed franchise.
ABS-CBN's broadcast halt this month was the first since it was forced to sign off when martial law was declared in 1972.
The network has since asked the Supreme Court to block the NTC's cease-and-desist order, which forced it off air on May 5.
The network, which reaches millions nationwide through its free television and radio, has said it did not violate the law.
news.abs-cbn.com is the official news website of ABS-CBN Corp.