Cayetano files bill granting ABS-CBN provisional franchise until October 2020 | Inquirer News
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Cayetano files bill granting ABS-CBN provisional franchise until October 2020

/ 04:55 PM May 13, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — More than a week since media giant ABS-CBN shut down its broadcast operations, several lawmakers—including Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano—filed a bill granting the network a provisional franchise to operate.

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Under House Bill No. 6732, ABS-CBN will be granted a provisional franchise valid until October 31, 2020.

“Through this measure, we hope to strike a balance between the immediate needs of the people amid his crisis and the duty of Congress to ensure accountability to our present laws,” the lawmakers said in the bill’s explanatory note.

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“Providing ABS-CBN with a provisional franchise valid until 31 October 2020 will give both the House of Representatives and the Senate to hear the issues being raised for and against the renewal, and assess, with complete impartiality and fairness, whether or not the network shall be granted a franchise for another twenty-five (25) years,” they added.

Further, the lawmakers said: “We cannot, in good conscience, sweep the accusations under the rug.”

The House of Representatives on Wednesday convened into a Committee of the Whole to tackle the bill.

“When the House constitutes itself into a Committee of the Whole, it functions as one committee acting upon a bill or resolution and conducting its proceedings like a regular committee with its membership composed of all the Members of the House,” House rule states.

The 11 bills seeking the renewal of franchise of ABS-CBN remain pending before the House committee on legislative franchises, the earliest of which, at least in the 18th Congress, was filed in July 2019.

While the bills were pending in the lower chamber Cayetano, on numerous occasions, assured that ABS-CBN would not shut down its operations even if its franchises lapses.

In assuring that ABS-CBN will continue its operations while Congress tackles the bills seeking its renewal, House leaders banked on the NTC granting the network a provisional authority to operate.

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On March 10, NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba told members of the House that they will follow the advice of the Department of Justice (DOJ), allowing ABS-CBN to operate while its franchise renewal bid is pending in Congress.

But on May 5, the NTC issued a cease and desist order against ABS-CBN, directing the network to stop its broadcast operations after its franchise expired on May 4.

The cease and desist order came two days after Solicitor General Jose Calida warned NTC against issuing a provisional authority to operate to ABS-CBN.

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