How Speaker Cayetano is losing in his ABS-CBN franchise gamble

When Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano rode the tide of public opinion and authored as well as filed House Bill No. 6732 or the bill granting provisional franchise for ABS-CBN to operate, he wasn’t trying to make amends for his failure to do his job. He was trying to become a hero not only to the 11,000 workers of the television network but also to the people of the provinces whose only source of information is ABS-CBN. Unfortunately, his “heroic act”is already backfiring as members of the House of Representatives are already showing their real colors.

ABS-CBN shifts focus to digital, broadband | BusinessWorld

Immediately after filing the bill, it was discussed in the House of Representatives and passed the second reading in a span of one day despite lacking the certification of urgency from the Philippine President. According to Section 58 of the Rules of the House of Representatives, “No bill or joint resolution shall become law unless it passes three (3) readings on separate days and printed copies thereof in its final form are distributed to the Members three (3) days before its passage except when the President certifies to the necessity of its immediate enactment to meet a public calamity or emergency. (Emphasis supplied)

However, just like a house of straw, the bill crumbled. On Monday, May 18, the approval of the bill was recalled. Allegedly, the reconsideration on the approval was based on the request of the members of the Lower House to interpellate.

The fact that the approval of Cayetano’s bill was recalled simply means that the Speaker is already losing the grip on the Lower House. The pronouncement of the Palace that President Rodrigo Duterte is unlikely to veto the ABS-CBN franchise renewal bill should have been a cue for the members of the chamber to pass the measure. It did not. Even assuming that the pronouncement is false — that is, the President will indeed veto the bill — simply exposes the fact that the Speaker is going against the will of the President. Either way, the act of simply authoring and filing the franchise bill is a false move leading to heavy loses.

Worse, the bill, if approved, will also put the President in bad light. Once HB 6732 leaves the door of the House of Representatives and enters the Senate, the members of the Upper Chamber now have the power to modify the proposed legislation. And with the bill in the hands of the Senators, there is a greater possibility that instead of a provisional franchise, a full franchise may be may be offered to the network. This will put the President in a spotlight. The Palace spokesperson said that the President will sign it, right? Now that the bill has been modified from provisional to full franchise, he changed his mind? Where is then the President who is “brusko” and does what he says?

Or the Spokesman will give way in favor of the President and resign again, this time because of the Cayetano’s miscalculations?

It is understandable that the Speaker wants to return to the national spotlight. 2022 is barely around the corner. But since he is into political gambling, maybe he needs to learn from “The Gambler” who’s advice is:

If you’re gonna play the game, boy,
You gotta learn to play it right.
You got to know when to hold ’em,
Know when to fold ’em,
Know when to walk away,
And know when to run.

Kenny Rogers

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