House debates on ABS-CBN franchise will be ‘fair,’ Cayetano assures
MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives will observe “fairness” in deliberating the franchise renewal of television giant ABS-CBN Corp., Speaker Alan Cayetano assured Monday.
“Ia-assure ko ang lahat ng ating kababayan ang mga kapamilya, ang mga newscaster, artista and all concern na magiging fair ang hearing sa Kongreso (I assure the public, your newscasters, artists and all concerned that our hearings will be fair),” the Taguig-Pateros 1st District congressman said in an interview with ABS-CBN’s “Umagang Kay Ganda.”
Cayetano explained that they would finish the ratification of the proposed P4.1 trillion national budget for 2020 before focusing on other measures like ABS-CBN’s franchise, which would expire on March 30, 2020.
“Pero ako naniniwala na ‘yung management n’yo ay determinado na harapin ‘tong mga issues na ito at makahanap ng resolution. So, hindi naman ako makasagot sa inyo ng definite ngayon na definitely hindi, o definitely maibibigay,” the former senator said.
(But I believe that your management is determined to face these issues and find a resolution. So, I can’t give a definite answer now that definitely no or definitely the franchise will be approved.)
The former Foreign Affairs chief also stressed that they value the preservation of a free press in the Philippines.
“But I can assure you na ang Kongreso magiging (that Congress will be) very fair, and I can assure you na importante sa atin ang (that we value) free press, atsaka ang balansyadong media sa buong bansa (and a fair media across the country),” Cayetano said.
Bills renewing ABS-CBN’s franchise for another 25 years remained pending at the committee on legislative franchises since November 16, 2016. The panel did not act on the bill until the 17th Congress ended.
The franchise also remained unacted upon under Cayetano’s leadership. Congress went on a break last October 3 and would resume sessions on November 4.
President Rodrigo 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.
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo had clarified that 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 – was not a vengeful person.
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