Submitting TWG’s report on ABS-CBN to plenary possible but not regular — Cayetano
MANILA, Philippines — While it is indeed possible for the House Committee on Legislative Franchises’ to submit the resolution denying ABS-CBN’s application for a fresh 25-year franchise to the plenary for further debates, Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said this is not the regular procedure.
Cayetano made the remark in response to the Makabayan bloc’s letter to Palawan Rep. Franz Alvarez, who chairs the legislative franchises committee, seeking the submission of the technical working group’s report as well as the resolution denying the broadcast network’s franchise bid.
The Makabayan bloc said that while majority of the members of the legislative franchises committee have already voted to deny the franchise bid of the country’s largest broadcast network, the decision “requires the approval of the entire House of Representatives.”
When asked about it, Cayetano told CNN Philippines Thursday: “As a general rule, kapag dineny yung franchise, hindi na pumupunta sa plenary yan. But the plenary, under the Constitution, has all the powers. So it depends on how the House will decide.”
(As a general rule, once a franchise is denied, that will no longer reach the plenary. But the plenary, under the Constitution, has all the powers. So it depends on how the House will decide.)
“So is it possible? Yes. Is it regular procedure? No. So yun ang kina-clarify namin (That’s what we are clarifying),” Cayetano added.
Cayetano said that the legislative franchises committee shall first submit it to the Committee on Rules before it is brought to the plenary as a whole.
“Halimbawa, tapos na pag-usapan yung Anti-Terror Law pero gusto mo pang tumayo at gusto mong pag-usapan, kung privilege speech lang, you don’t even need everyone to agree, ikaw lang. But if you want to re-open the discussions on the law, then you have to get the permission ng plenary,” Cayetano said.
(For example, the discussions on Anti-Terror Law have ended but you want to still talk about it. If it’s just a privilege speech, you don’t even need everyone to agree. But if you want to re-open the discussions on the law, then you have to get the permission of the plenary.)
“So it’s the usual procedure na may magmo-motion, and then it depends kapag sinuportahan ng Committee on Rules, then tuloy na yan. Pero kapag tinutulan, magbobotohan yan,” he added
(The usual procedure is that someone will make a motion and then it depends whether the Committee on Rules will support it. If so, then it proceeds. But if it is denied, then there will be a voting.)
However, Cayetano believes that the issue should not be put “front and center” especially as the country continues to grapple with the pandemic.
The Speaker said that while it is important to tackle “controversial” measures, whether it is charter change or the Anti-Terror Law, the lower chamber should focus on solving the problems of Filipinos amid the pandemic.
But will he support the Makabayan bloc’s call? Cayetano said the lower chamber will follow the procedure.
“I think whatever (is the) procedure, we’ll follow. We haven’t heard the end of the discussions on these issues. So I’m sure that there will be discussions on the floor,” Cayetano said.
“I cannot just tell you right now because we haven’t had an all-member caucus, we haven’t met with the whole Committee on Rules, but we do have priorities. And it really depends on the numbers din kung anong mangyayari (on what will happen),” the Speaker added.
An overwhelming 70 lawmakers in the House of Representatives’ legislative franchises committee earlier voted against granting ABS-CBN a franchise, with only 11 lawmakers voting for the granting of the franchise.
The network has been off the air since early May after its television and radio operations nationwide were ordered shut following the expiration of its 25-year franchise, the renewal of which was pending in Congress at the time.