Cayetano says hearing on renewal of ABS-CBN franchise '' not urgent''
The House of Representatives will tackle other urgent issues before conducting congressional hearings on the renewal of ABS-CBN Corp.'s franchise as the broadcast giant can operate up to March 2022.
House Speaker Allan Peter Cayetano said Friday the issue on the media giant's renewal of franchise is "not urgent" and will be discussed in the chamber once everyone has cooled down.
Cayetano said addressing the issue now will "will suck all the energy of the 18th Congress" because every lawmaker might want to express their sentiments during the hearing.
He added prioritizing it might cause delays in hearings for other issues.
"Why am I saying this is not urgent? Don't get me wrong, this is very important. But they can still operate until March 2022," Cayetano told the reporters.
"We need cooler heads. If I want to grandstand, I will call for a hearing. But is it the right timing? Are we all in the right frame of mind or are we still hot-headed?" he added.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III and House Committee on Legislative Franchises Vice Chair Isabela 1st District Rep. Antonio Albano explained this week ABS-CBN may continue its broadcasting until the 18th Congress ends in 2022.
Despite a quo warranto petition filed before the Supreme Court by Solcitor General Jose Calida on Feb. 10, there are 11 pending bills in the lower chamber seeking renewal of ABS-CBN's franchise.
Cayetano said during previous discussions between the Congress and the National Telecommunications Commission, both agreed to permit media and pther utility firms to operate amid pending franchise renewals.
"There's a consensus that while we're discussing the issue, there is no reason to shutdown (ABS-CBN)," Cayetano said.
Cayetano said the hearing for ABS-CBN's franchise renewal might be scheduled on March or May 2022. The hearing might be moved to July 2020 after President Rodrigo Duterte's State of the Nation Address, he added.
He vowed that the chamber will have a fair discussion on the issue and that it is "open to any kind of mechanics to make our judgement more objective."
"You wanna get a panel of experts to join the congressmen? I am okay with that," he said.
"We will do our job and we will do it fairly," Cayetano added. Cristina Eloisa Baclig/DMS