Surfing on the ABS-CBN franchise renewal

After the ABS-CBN franchise renewal snafu, House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano would not only like to prolong the TV network’s agony but also would like to emerge as a hero of the mess he himself made. Worse, the “heroic act” would be at the expense of the taxpayers’ money.

After the ABS-CBN franchise renewal snafu, House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano tried to make a comeback by threatening Solicitor General Jose Calida and the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) in a lengthy Facebook post. Sticking to the script, he came out again on May 13 hitting on the NTC for lying under oath during the public hearing but burying the issue that the House of Representatives committed a sin of omission by not religiously doing its job — to legislate.

But more than just hitting on the NTC, Speaker Cayetano dropped an announcement to pass the franchise for the television network. On that same day, he filed House Bill 6732 (HB6732), a bill that grants ABS-CBN provisional franchise to operate until October 31, 2020, before Congress deliberates on long-pending bills giving the media giant license to broadcast for another 25 years.

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The House of Representatives during the session to approve House Bill No. 6732 or the bill giving ABS-CBN a franchise to operate until October 31, 2020. (Picture source: House of Representatives)

As of this writing, HB 6732 which Cayetano authored himself is already on the Second Reading. One more reading and the bill will be subjected to a vote. Once the majority votes in its favor, the bill will then be transmitted to the Senate. If acceptable to the Senators, the bill might meet the pen of the President.

Unfortunately, Cayetano would not only like to prolong the TV network’s agony but also would like to emerge as a hero of the mess he himself made. Worse, the “heroic act” would be at the expense of the taxpayers’ money. Since the franchise given by the Congress is a law, public hearings, sessions and paperwork are required — these at the expense of taxpayers’ money. Should taxpayers’ money then be wasted in expenses like these when the economy is on a looming recession?

If Cayetano is serious in making amends, then why not do the work properly by avoiding retail legislation? Why not do a thorough legislation now and, if the TV network so deserves, then approve its franchise once and for all, or deny the franchise applied for if it doesn’t? And, why until October only? We don’t think the Speaker is looking forward for a Christmas gift, right?

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