Atienza: House plenary may overturn panel’s rejection of ABS-CBN bid to renew franchise
MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives may overrule the decision of the legislative franchises committee to deny ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal application, a House official said on Tuesday.
Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza, a deputy speaker, said the House plenary “has the supreme authority over all matters in Congress; it’s not the committee.”
“My point of view is that the plenary at this point will have the authority to recall the issue or even overrule the committee if it so desires,” he told reporters.
Atienza, who previously filed a bill for the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise, said “the whole Congress can take action to take over the issue and discuss it on the floor.”
“I would want to go back and rectify the fault of Congress, which I call a mistrial. There was a mistrial and there is every reason why we should open it up once again and allow Congress, the plenary, the body itself to decide on the issue,” he added.
Atienza called the House committee’s decision on July 10 last year “unfair, unjust and illegal.”
While the franchise application of ABS-CBN was killed under the former speaker, Atienza said the possibility of it being granted now was “highly probable” under Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, whom he described as “a fairer chairman or a leader” compared to Taguig City-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III also expressed a similar sentiment when he filed on Monday Senate Bill No. 1967, which would renew the media giant’s franchise.
Sotto said there “might be a better chance” now with Velasco at the helm of the House.
But under Article VI, Section 24 of the Constitution, private bills shall “originate exclusively in the House of Representatives.”
For Anakalusugan Rep. Mike Defensor, the vice chair of the House committee on legislative franchises, all bills for the renewal of the media giant’s franchise must be withdrawn first before new ones could be filed.
Defensor agreed with Atienza that previously denied ABS-CBN bills could be brought to the plenary.
“Was there an instance that the plenary reversed a committee report? Yes, there were instances where that happened as a precedent,” he said.
Media experts, however, remained cautious about the timing and intention of bills for the revival of the franchise of ABS-CBN.
Danilo Arao, associate professor at the College of Mass Communication College of the University of the Philippines, said it was possible that lawmakers were now laying the ground for their campaigns, especially with the 2022 elections fast approaching.
Echoing Arao’s sentiment, Nonoy Espina, chair of the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines, said he also suspected political posturing with President Duterte’s term coming to an end. INQ
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