Vilma Santos-Recto: Leave ABS-CBN franchise to ‘sound discretion’ of congressmen
MANILA, Philippines — House Deputy Speaker Vilma Santos-Recto welcomed Tuesday presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo’s remark on ABS-CBN Corp.’s franchise renewal, saying she entrusts the matter to the “sound discretion” of her fellow congressmen.
Panelo clarified earlier this day that President Rodrigo Duterte’s threats to block the franchise renewal of the radio-television giant were mere expressions of displeasure. The Palace mouthpiece claimed the Chief Executive– known for brandishing tirades against critics– is not a vengeful person.
Santos-Recto, who filed one of the five bills renewing the network’s franchise which would expire on March 30, 2020, welcomed Panelo’s recognition of the “exclusive power of Congress in the issuance and renewal of Franchise under existing policy.”
“Ang sabi ko nga (As I said), let’s wait for the action of the Committee on Legislative Franchise regarding ABSCBN renewal, when we go back this November,” the veteran actress who has worked with ABS-CBN told INQUIRER.net.
“I leave it to the sound discretion of my colleagues in Congress,” she added.
The 17th Congress version of the proposed law remains pending at the committee on legislative franchises since Nov. 16, 2016. The panel did not act on the bill until the previous 17th Congress ended.
Weeks after the 18th Congress opened in July this year, House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez said it was still “premature” to affirm if the lower chamber would commit to process the proposal on the legislated franchise of ABS-CBN. The franchise remained pending in the House until Congress went on a break last Oct. 3. It would resume sessions on Nov. 4.
Duterte has repeatedly launched threats against media outfits critical of his administration like the Lopez-owned ABS-CBN, the broadsheet Philippine Daily Inquirer, and the online news site Rappler. He even threatened to block the franchise renewal of ABS-CBN, accusing the network of allegedly not providing him the airtime he had paid for.
INQUIRER.net has repeatedly sought the comment of legislative franchises panel chair and Palawan 1st District Rep. Franz Alvarez via text and in person, but he has yet to respond. /muf
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