Albano says no stonewalling by House committee in ABS-CBN franchise renewal
MANILA, Philippines — It is “unfair” to say that the House committee on legislative franchises is “just stonewalling” when it has not tackled the renewal of the franchise of media network ABS-CBN when there is only a month before it expires.
Isabela 1st District Antonio Albano, panel vice-chairperson said this on Wednesday amid accusations that the committee is not doing its job by not tackling ABS-CBN’s application for renewal of franchise.
According to Albano, lawmakers were swamped by other pressing issues such as the Taal Volcano eruption last month and the threat of the respiratory disease “COVID-19,” or formerly known as the 2019 novel coronavirus.
“Kung gusto niyong mag-blame game, ‘yung ibang committees, ‘yung legislative franchise committee noong 17th Congress did not even act on it because of so many other pressing issues,” Albano said in an interview over ABS-CBN News Channel.
(If you want to play the blame game, even the legislative franchise committee in the 17th Congress did not act on the ABS-CBN franchise renewal because of so many pressing issues.)
“It’s also unfair to call our committee that we’re just stonewalling,” he added.
Aside from these, he also pointed out that there are other firms that have applied for a renewal of their franchise before that of ABS-CBN.
Bills seeking for the renewal of the ABS-CBN franchise for another 25 years have been filed at the House of Representatives as early as July last year and lawmakers have been calling on the leadership to start deliberating on this.
As of writing, there are a total of 11 House bills on the ABS-CBN franchise.
The Isabela representative revealed that the panel has been meeting “behind closed doors” about the ABS-CBN franchise due to “pressure” they receive not only from the President but also from other lawmakers and even from the media.
This is to maintain the panel’s impartiality, Albano explained.
“Can you imagine there’s pressure not only from the President, there’s pressure from congressman Lito Atienza, our colleagues in Congress, there’s pressure from the media,” he said.
“How do we become impartial if we don’t do it closed-door, secretly sometimes, even if the agenda of ABS-CBN has not been calendared,” Albano added.
The franchise of ABS-CBN is set to expire on March 30 this year.
Moreover, Solicitor General Jose Calida recently filed before the Supreme Court a quo warranto petition calling for the cancellation of the ABS-CBN’s franchise.
Albano explained that even though the Congress fails to tackle the media giant’s franchise by March 30, ABS-CBN will not cease to operate as they could apply for provisional authority from the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC).
He said that Congress has until June 2020 to hear the case of ABS-CBN.
“We don’t want to make this madali because of the very very hot issue that we’re facing,” the lawmaker said.
Edited by MUF
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