Withdraw previous bills first before filing new ABS-CBN franchise measure, says Defensor
MANILA, Philippines — For Anakalusugan Rep. Mike Defensor, the easiest solution to once again start ABS-CBN’s franchise bid in the House of Representatives would be for authors to withdraw their initially denied bills to make way for the refiling of new ones.
Defensor, who serves as the vice chairman of the House committee on legislative franchises, explained that the ABS-CBN franchise remains to be an “unfinished business” in the lower chamber even as 70 lawmakers already voted against granting the network a franchise to operate back in July 2020.
“Pagdating dito sa Kongreso, ang sinasabi ng aming rules, that if there is a bill that is not approved, it is laid on the table. Again, it is part of parliamentary courtesy na hindi siya pinapatay,” Defensor, who voted for the denial of ABS-CBN’s franchise, said in an interview with reporters.
“Diba naalala ninyo noong committee hearing sinasabi namin, technically it’s laid on the table but it’s technically voted down. But laid on the table means nandiyan pa ang batas, itinabi lang,” he added.
This means that in order for new ABS-CBN franchise bills to be filed, previously denied measures have to be withdrawn first by their authors, Defensor said.
“Ano ang pinakamadaling solusyon kung gusto nila ulit simulan ito para sa committee? Lahat ng mga original na nag-author from Day 1, yung labindalawa na gumawa ng renewal of franchise should all withdraw and a new franchise law should be filed,” Defensor explained.
Defensor made the remark after Senate President Vicente Sotto III filed a measure in the upper chamber seeking to revive ABS-CBN franchise.
As counterpart, House Deputy Speaker Vilma Santos-Recto said she will also file a franchise bill for ABS-CBN in the lower chamber.
Under the 1987 Constitution, private bills—such as 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.
“For example, nag-file si Deputy Speaker Vilma Santos and I respect that, karapatan niya yan mag-file siya. Ang sasabihin ng committee on legislative franchises, ‘no, there is a pending bill laid on the table, diba?’ Kasi yun yung pinag-usapan namin e. And therefore, wala doon sa hierarchy yung take-up doon sa kanyang bagong franchise bill,” Defensor said.
“Can anyone file? Yes. But the original franchise proposal should be withdrawn. Yun naman ay aking pananaw,” he added.
Another option would be to bring the previously denied ABS-CBN franchise bills to the plenary, said Defensor.
“May nangyari na ba na ang committee report ni-reverse ng plenary? Meron. May nangyari nang ganyan sa atin as a precedent,” Defensor said.
“Pero ang rules ng Kongreso, napakalakas ng ibinibigay niyang poder sa committee na tama naman dahil committee ang gumagawa ng trabaho, committee ang nagkakaroon ng hearing, committee ang naghihimay at gumagawa ng pinal na batas para ihain sa plenaryo,” he added.
But Defensor said that while any House member can bring the matter to the plenary, the House committee on rules “will definitely oppose it” to protect the work done by the legislative franchises panel.
In a television interview in July 2020, then Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said that while it is indeed possible for the legislative franchises committee to submit the resolution denying ABS-CBN’s franchise application to the plenary for further debates, it is not the regular procedure.
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.
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