Vilma Santos-Recto to file new bill to give ABS-CBN 25-year franchise
MANILA, Philippines — Saying she continues to believe that it is “the right thing to do,” Deputy Speaker Vilma Santos-Recto said Monday she will file a new bill that would give ABS-CBN Corp. a fresh 25-year legislative franchise.
This comes after Senate President Vicente Sotto III filed earlier Monday Senate Bill No. 1967, seeking to revive the franchise of the broadcasting giant.
Santos-Recto said she will file the bill this week or next week.
“I am refiling the bill seeking for the renewal for another 25 years of the ABS-CBN franchise. I filed it the last time and I continue to believe that it is the right thing to do,” Santos-Recto told INQUIRER.net in a text message.
Santos-Recto said the re-opening of ABS-CBN will create jobs and “help promote healthy competition among the networks.”
“Most importantly, ‘di mapagkakaila ang (one cannot deny the) far reach ng (of) ABS-CBN in the regions during calamities,” Santos-Recto said.
“I am hoping that after I refile this bill, the Committee on Rules will immediately act on this counterpart measure of Senate President Sotto’s bill so that it will hopefully be referred to the Committee on Legislative Franchises the soonest,” she added.
Even if Sotto has filed a bill granting ABS-CBN a new franchise in the Senate, a similar measure has to be approved first in the House of Representatives.
Under the 1987 Constitution, private bills—such as the granting and renewal of franchises—“shall originate exclusively” from the House. This means that the House has to approve ABS-CBN’s franchise bid first before the Senate can make any significant progress on the matter.
Sotto’s move at the Senate happened months after the House of Representatives’ legislative franchises committee denied ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal bid, which led to the network’s closure in May 2020 upon the order of the National Telecommunications Commission due to an expired franchise.
Sotto believes that ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal has a “better chance” now with the change in House composition.
As for Santos-Recto, she said she is “hoping for the best.”
To recall, the 70 lawmakers voted against ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal application in July 2019.
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