Vilma Santos-Recto pushes ABS-CBN franchise bill
MANILA, Philippines — Time is running out on the broadcasting license of ABS-CBN, but the House legislative franchise panel has not tabled any of the six bills that may save the TV giant from closing shop next year.
Deputy Speaker Vilma Santos-Recto, a movie actress, known as Ate Vi, who has worked with the network, is hoping her colleagues would finally begin discussions on the measure renewing ABS-CBN’s 25-year franchise, which expires on March 30, 2020.
No deliberations since July
“Considering that we are in recess, I hope that when we go back this November, this will be subject for deliberation by the committee,” the Batangas representative told the Inquirer on Sunday.
Recto, one of the authors of the ABS-CBN franchise bills, said the measure was still “pending” in the committee chaired by Palawan Rep. Franz Alvarez since the 18th Congress opened in July.
“Just for the record, last 17th Congress, the same [was not] tackled by the committee,” the congresswoman said in a text message.
Alvarez was also the chair of the panel in the last Congress.
He did not reply to the Inquirer when sought for comment.
Besides Recto, at least five other influential lawmakers have filed their version of the bill, including another deputy speaker, Pangasinan Rep. Rose Marie Arenas, along with Laguna Rep. Sol Aragones, Nueva Ecija Rep. Micaela Violago, PBA Rep. Jericho Nograles and Parañaque Rep. Joy Myra Tambunting.
In filing House Bill No. 4305, Recto noted ABS-CBN’s stature as the “Philippines’ largest entertainment and media conglomerate.”
“ABS-CBN has remained steadfast in its commitment to reach out to as many Filipinos as possible by delivering their quality core programs closer to our countrymen by taking advantage of emerging broadcast technologies,” she said.
The cause of delay
In the previous Congress, a similar measure was sidelined in Congress as President Duterte launched repeated verbal attacks against the media network due to perceived slights and its allegedly slanted reporting.
Lawmakers took no action on the bill, which had been left pending in the House legislative franchises committee since November 2016.
In August, Majority Leader Martin Romualdez refused to make any commitments on whether the bill would be prioritized.
“I believe it’s premature to comment on that as we’re still in the early stages,” he said.
Congress is currently on a break and will resume session on Nov. 4.
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