‘A mistrial’: Atienza eyes reconsideration of ABS-CBN franchise in House
MANILA, Philippines — Calling the previous franchise denial a “mistrial,” Deputy Speaker Lito Atienza said Tuesday he is eyeing to move for the reconsideration of the decision on media giant ABS-CBN’s franchise in the House of Representatives.
Atienza’s remarks came after Senate President Vicente Sotto III filed a bill in the upper chamber seeking to grant ABS-CBN a franchise to operate, months after the House committee on legislative franchises denied the network’s bid back in July 2020.
Asked if he will file a similar measure in the lower chamber, Atienza said he would push for a motion for reconsideration instead, saying that Congress can take action by bringing the issue to the plenary floor.
“Rather than refiling, I would say a motion for reconsideration of the decision of the committee, that is a shorter route towards an acceptable result of the deliberations,” Atienza said in an interview with reporters.
“Kasi kung magre-refile na naman, we start from a e nandito na tayo sa malayu-layong nang alphabet. Andito na nga tayo sa R, reconsideration. ‘Wag na nating ibalik, let’s continue where they left off,” he added.
Atienza said it has not been settled yet whether he will personally move for the reconsideration of ABS-CBN’s franchise bid when House resumes session on January 18.
But should others move for the reconsideration, Atienza said he would support it.
“The important thing is for us to take it up the issue now that the Senate has taken a very serious consideration of the matter,” Atienza said.
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 the legislative franchises committee shall first submit it to the Committee on Rules before it is brought to the plenary as a whole.
According to Atienza, the process conducted by the House committee on legislative franchises in deliberating on ABS-CBN’s franchise application last year was “questionable,” as he took a jab at the leadership of Cayetano.
“They brow [beat] the witnesses, the reference agencies, and to me they beat up ABS to a pulp na hindi binigyan ng tamang pagkakataon at patas na desisyon because after a lengthy 13 session hearing ay wala silang patunuyan and yet the decision was overwhelmingly guilty and punished with the cancelation of the franchise,” Atienza said.
“So para sa akin, we should take off from there. And I would want to go back and rectify the fault of Congress, which I call a mistrial,” he added.
Atienza likewise expressed optimism on the issue following the leadership change in the House, with Speaker Lord Allan Velasco taking over.
“Bago na Speaker ngayon, I don’t see it in his character to give us a double talk, possibly even a double-cross, and he would be a fairer chairman or a leader, a Speaker for that when we take up the issue,” Atienza said.
“If they [ABS-CBN critics] are not able to prove anything and the Speaker does not take sides—and I don’t see Speaker Velasco railroading proceedings the way we saw it—I am positive the granting of a franchise or the reconsideration of a decision that committee is very very probable, highly-probable,” he added.
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