By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN
Militant congressmen from the Makabayan bloc on Monday have filed the 10th bill over the franchise renewal of broadcast giant ABS-CBN.
Party-list Reps. Carlos Zarate and Eufemia Cullamat of Bayan Muna; France Castro of ACT Teachers; Arlene Brosas of Gabriela, and Sarah Elago of Kabataan led the filing of House Bill No. 6052 that seeks to grant a fresh 25-yeah franchise to the Kapamilya network.
Makabayan said in its explanatory note that the refusal to grant franchise to ABS-CBN “could be construed as an act against the Constitutionally-protected freedoms, especially the right to a free and independent press.”
The group even called out President Rodrigo Duterte who consistently threatened to block the franchise renewal of ABS-CBN, saying the impending shutdown of the Lopez-controlled network due to a mere personal grudge “is evocative of a forced shutdown of radio and TV stations during the Marcos martial law rule.”
ABS-CBN needs to secure the passage of their congressional franchise on or before March 30, 2020—the expiration date set by its current franchise under Republic Act No. 7966—or the network will have to cease operating as a broadcast network if Congress fails to act on the franchise bill.
House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano last week said there is still enough to for Congress to approved the embattled franchise renewal application of broadcast giant ABS-CBN amid its impending expiration by the end of March.
He said two or three hearings will do for the House committee on legislative franchises if its members really want to approved the nine proposed legislations that seek grant a fresh 25-year franchise to the Kapamilya network.
The House leader said he recently talked with House committee on legislative franchise chair Franz “Chicoy” Alvarez and he was told by the Palawan solon that he is set to hear around 50 franchise renewal bills, pending before his panel by first week of February.