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Double cross: Find out why Cayetano wants ABS-CBN’s franchise good only until October

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Observers of ABS-CBN’s franchise saga were surprised when House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano showed up out of the blue at the House of Representatives plenary on May 13 to sponsor a bill giving the network a provisional franchise.

With Cayetano’s go signal, the House passed House Bill 6732 with lighting speed on the same day.

What’s puzzling, however, is why Cayetano wanted ABS-CBN’s provisional franchise to be valid for only five months, until October 31, 2020. Even Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III questioned the Speaker’s motive.

“Bakit ‘yong franchise na ina-approve ng House eh five months? Ngayon lang kami nakarinig ng franchise na five months. 25 years kung 25 years, bakit five months? Hindi ba?” he said in a radio interview.

Multiple sources from the House revealed that Cayetano’s motive for rescuing ABS-CBN is to scuttle the term sharing agreement for the speakership with Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Jay Velasco.

Cayetano and Velasco had agreed to a “15-21” term sharing deal last year to settle the speakership battle: Cayetano will be Speaker for 15 months, until October 2020. Velasco will succeed him and hold the post until July 2022, for a total of 21 months.

Although President Rodrigo Duterte brokered the deal between the two politikos, Cayetano has been moving to shelve the agreement and make himself Speaker for three years. Among his strategies was floating a coup plot in the House last March, with no less than Velasco as the supposed mastermind.

Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza called Cayetano’s bluff and said the alleged coup plot was nothing more than a “moro-moro.”

“I do not hear anything about such insidious, subversive talks about a coup plot. The coup plot emanated from the office of the Speaker, and he claims 20 congressmen confessed to him. I challenge him, name the congressmen… para naman patas.If you cannot name them, forget it,” Atienza said.

By giving ABS-CBN a five-month long provisional franchise, sources said Cayetano aims to make the network deeply indebted to him so he can use its resources for his political ambition.

In the short run, Politiko’s sources in the House said Cayetano will be emboldened to shelve the term sharing deal with Velasco if ABS-CBN manages to get a 25-year franchise before October this year.

Sources believe the network will be more than willing to repay its debt of gratitude to Cayetano by backing him over Velasco in the second round of the speakership battle royale.

Cayetano wants the speakership all to himself in preparation for running for higher office in the 2022 elections.

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