By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman has accused the House leadership of pressuring congressmen who signed a resolution seeking to expedite the franchise renewal bill of broadcast giant ABS-CBN.
In a statement, Lagman urged House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano “not to pressure those who signed House Resolution No. 639 to withdraw their signatures.”
“Verified reports show that House leaders have been asking signatories to withdraw their support to Resolution No. 639,” he said.
Lagman stressed that “the signatories to the resolution do not challenge the House leadership but they want the House leadership and membership to exercise the sole congressional prerogative to grant and extend legislative franchises.”
He added that the signatories only want “to protect and uphold the freedom of the press and the freedom of expression,” in signing the resolution.
HR 639 urges the Committee on legislative franchises chaired by Palawan Rep. Franz “Chicoy” Alvarez to report out without further delay a consolidated bill on the franchise renewal of the Lopez-owned media conglomerate.
Lagman insisted that Cayetano “has no monopoly on the fate of ABS-CBN’s franchise.”
He explained that although the House leader has personal grievances against the network or objections against the renewal of the network’s franchise, he “must allow members of the House to cast their respective conscience votes on the renewal.”
“The Speaker cannot solely toll the death knell on bills or unduly delay the plenary deliberation on legislative measures. He has no monopoly over the fate of these measures,” said Lagman.
“Other Representatives are his co-equals who should not be disenfranchised from seasonably voting on the proposed renewal,” he added.