‘Not that urgent,’ Cayetano says of hearings on ABS-CBN franchise renewal
MANILA, Philippines — Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said Friday that hearings on the franchise renewal of media giant ABS-CBN are important but “not that urgent” since the network could still operate until 2022.
Speaking with reporters on the sidelines of an event in Taguig City, Cayetano admitted that discussions on the franchise renewal “will suck all the energy of the 18th Congress” as lawmakers would want their stand on the issue heard.
“Kung tayo mag-hearing ngayon, alam mo, sasabihin ko sa inyo kung ano mangyayari: it will suck all the energy of the 18th Congress. Halos lahat ng miyembro, mag-aattend. At pustahan tayo, lahat ng anti, pipila makapagsalita. Lahat ng pro, pipila para magsalita,” he added.
(When we conduct a hearing, you know what will happen? It will suck all the energy of the 18th Congress. Almost all of the members will attend. I bet all who are against will line up. All who are in favor will line up to speak.)
The House leader also said deliberations on the network’s franchise would be a “delicate balance.”
“How do you hold ABS accountable for some perceived violations of the franchise? On the other hand, how do you protect press freedom? And what is a just ruling vis-à-vis ‘yung mga (on the) allegations? Pero nandun pa lang tayo sa allegation,” Cayetano said.
Earlier this week, the government’s top lawyer filed a quo warranto petition before the Supreme Court seeking to revoke the network’s license ahead of its expiration this March.
In filing the petition, Solicitor General Jose Calida cited “highly abusive practices” of the network “benefiting a greedy few at the expense of millions of its loyal subscribers.”
ABS-CBN, however, has maintained it did not violate any law governing its franchise and that it had secured all necessary approvals for its business operations.
‘Not that urgent’
According to Cayetano, tackling the bills on the network’s franchise renewal is “not that urgent.”
“There has to be some way that we can soberly and very reasonably discuss these issues with emotions, but not with rhetoric. Palinawagan tayo…Napakaimportante po ng franchise ng ABS-CBN hindi lang sa 11,000 empleyado,” he said.
(There has to be some way that we can soberly and very rationally discuss these issues with emotions, but not with rhetoric. Let’s discuss this…The franchise of ABS-CBN not only to 11,000 of its workers.)
“Importante ‘to sa buong bansa, sa demokrasya natin. Pero hindi ganun ka-urgent. Bakit? Kasi hanggang March 2022 pwede mag-operate e,” he added.
(This is important to the whole country, to our democracy. But it’s not that urgent. Why? Because the network can still operate until March 2022).
Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Isabela Rep. Antonio Albano earlier said the network could still operate as long as bills for the extension of its franchise are pending.
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