Once again, Vilma Santos-Recto files bill renewing ABS-CBN’s 25-year franchise
MANILA, Philippines — Months after ABS-CBN’s franchise bid was denied in the House of Representatives, Deputy Speaker Vilma Santos-Recto once again filed a bill renewing the network’s 25-year franchise.
Santos-Recto, who has been a vocal supporter of ABS-CBN, filed House Bill No. 8298 last January 5—a copy of which was obtained by media on Monday.
In filing the bill, Santos-Recto said that ABS-CBN is “the Philippines’ largest entertainment and media conglomerate in terms of revenue, operating income, net income, assets, equity, market capitalization, and the number of employees.”
“Despite the growing popularity of social media, television still remains as a preferred mass medium in our provinces and far-flung areas,” Santos-Recto said.
“ABS-CBN has remained steadfast in its commitment to reach out to as many Filipinos as possible by delivering their quality core programs closer to our countrymen by taking advantage of emerging broadcast technologies,” she added.
Santos-Recto’s bill came after Senate President Vicente Sotto III filed Senate Bill No. 1967, which seeks to revive the broadcasting giant’s franchise.
Even if Sotto has filed a bill granting ABS-CBN a new franchise in the Senate, a similar measure must be approved first in the House.
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.
Withdraw initial bills first?
But Rep. Mike Defensor, who serves as the vice-chairman of the House committee on legislative franchises, earlier said that the easiest solution to start ABS-CBN’s franchise bid once again in the House would be for authors to withdraw their initially denied bills to make way for the refiling of new ones.
Defensor explained that ABS-CBN’s franchise remains an “unfinished business” in the lower chamber even as 70 lawmakers already voted against granting the network a franchise to operate in July 2020.
Meanwhile, Deputy Speaker Lito Atienza, a supporter of ABS-CBN, earlier said he is eyeing to move to reconsider the decision on the media giant’s franchise bid.
According to Atienza, Congress could take action by bringing the issue to the plenary floor.
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