House panel set to meet for possible decision on ABS-CBN franchise bid
MANILA, Philippines — The House committee on legislative franchises is set to convene on Friday afternoon to further tackle ABS-CBN’s bid for a 25-year franchise, with a decision on whether or not the issue will pass the House panel level possibly made at the end of the meeting.
In the meeting, the technical working group (TWG) tasked to “study and draft the recommendations on the application for franchise of ABS-CBN” is expected to present their report.
During Thursday’s hearing, Alvarez did not mention if the voting will happen after the presentation and discussion on the TWG report but several lawmakers have previously said that the voting could happen on Friday.
Members of the TWG include Deputy Speaker Pablo John Garcia, Camiguin Rep. Xavier Jesus Romualdo, and Marikina 2nd District Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo.
“As we approach the final and most critical part of the deliberation, we call on our members to base their decision on their appreciation of facts and testimonies presented by all sides,” Alvarez has said.
“This is a historic opportunity for the 18th Congress to make a difference and prove our independence and integrity as an institution. We have all risen to this challenge and proven to everyone that we are capable of conducting exhaustive proceedings despite the current limitations and enormous expectations from the public,” he added.
The meeting came after the House legislative franchise committee joint with the committee on good government and public accountability held 13 hearings tackling various issues such as citizenship of the network’s chair emeritus Gabby Lopez and the Lopez family’s reclamation of the company after the EDSA Revolution.
Also discussed were the issues regarding the network’s alleged labor violations and tax-avoidance schemes, as well as their alleged political bias, among others.
On Thursday, lawmakers who are for and against the franchise summed up their arguments on the issues hounding the network.
While the hearings were handled by the joint committees, only the members of the legislative franchise committee, as well as the House officials who are considered ex officio members of the committee, will be able to vote.
According to the House of Representatives’ website, the legislative franchise committee has 46 members, including Alvarez.
There are also at least 45 House officials who are considered as ex officio members of the committee which includes leaders of the lower chamber such as Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Majority Leader Martin Romualdez, and Minority Leader Bienvenido Abante Jr.
If ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal bid passes in the House’s committee level, then it will be brought to the plenary floor for further debates. This time, however, debates will involve all the 302 members of the House.
In the event that the committee denies the application, then lawmakers can file a new bill which would also undergo the same process that the denied bills went through.
House Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate, an ex officio member of the committee, told INQUIRER.net that there is also a rule where a person who voted with the majority—in this scenario, a person who voted against the franchise renewal—can file a motion for reconsideration.