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Tackle ABS-CBN franchise extension bills asap

Legislators pointed out the urgency to tackle the proposed measures with the looming expiration of the ABS-CBN franchise on 30 March 2020, as well as the Congress having only 24 regular session days from its resumption on 20 January before it adjourns again for the Holy Week break.

Keith A. Calayag

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Eleven lawmakers from the House of Representatives urged the House Committee on Legislative Franchises to immediately discuss the pending bills that would extend the franchise given to broadcast firm ABS-CBN Corporation through a resolution yesterday.

House Resolution 639 was signed by the 11 lawmakers belonging to the majority and the minority blocs to “report out without further delay for plenary action” a consolidated version of the eight bills seeking to extend the franchise granted to ABS-CBN under Republic Act 7966.

Legislators pointed out the urgency to tackle the proposed measures with the looming expiration of the ABS-CBN franchise on 30 March 2020, as well as the Congress having only 24 regular session days from its resumption on 20 January before it adjourns again for the Holy Week break.

“Whereas, the Committee on Legislative Franchises must not temporize or delay the consideration and consolidation of the eight pending bills proposing for a 25-year renewal of the franchise of ABS-CBN Corporation,” the resolution reads.

The Senate could only start tackling the franchise renewal only after the House approves the measure on third and final reading.

Deputy Speaker and Surigao del Sur 2nd District Rep. Johnny Pimentel, Nueva Ecija 2nd District Rep. Michaela Violago, Parañaque 2nd District Rep. Joy Myra Tambunting and Oriental Mindoro 1st District Rep. Doy Leachon introduced the resolution as they were the same to file the respective bills seeking to extend the ABS-CBN franchise.

Minority lawmakers Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman, Negros Oriental 1st District Rep. Jocelyn Limkaichong, Capiz 1st District Rep. Emmanuel Billones, Quezon City 6th District Rep. Christopher “Kit” Belmonte, ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro and Bayan Muna Reps. Carlos Zarate and Eufemia Cullamat also pushed for the immediate tackling of the bills upon Congress session resumption.

The resolution states that the renewal of the ABS-CBN franchise “is inextricably linked to the exercise of press freedom.”

Lawmakers also stated in the resolution that a franchise is not just a privilege as this becomes a right once the conditions for its granting are complied with.

Earlier, panel chair Palawan Rep. Franz Alvarez said his committee will begin tackling pending bills on ABS-CBN when session at Congress resumes.

Alvarez vowed to be impartial and to hear all sides to find out if ABS-CBN violated any provisions of its franchise but also reminded the broadcast firm that franchise is not a right but a privilege granted by the Congress.

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