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Moving heaven and earth: Atienza says Cayetano pressuring solons to withdraw support for ABS-CBN franchise renewal

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By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN

Buhay Party-list Rep. Lito Atienza has confirmed that House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and other congressional leaders have been pressuring solons to withdraw support from a resolution seeking to expedite the franchise renewal bill of embattled broadcast giant ABS-CBN.

In an interview with CNN Philippines, Atienza, representative of Buhay Party-list confirmed the earlier revelation made by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman that Cayetano and his confidante congressmen are allegedly asking those signatories to withdraw their support to House Resolution No. 639.

“They’re moving heaven and earth to ask those 90 to withdraw,” said Atienza.

HR 639 filed recently by Lagman urges the House 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 network amid the impending expiration of its current legislative franchise by the end of next month.

Atienza stressed that such act made by Cayetano and his close allies is not only “insidious” but also a “self-destructing measure.”

“How can the Speaker be talking to the members to withdraw their signatures?” said Atienza.

Atienza said many of those 93 congressmen who signed HR 639 approached him as they were allegedly being forced by the Cayetano speakership to withdraw their respective signatures.

Lagman last week urged Cayetano “not to pressure those who signed House Resolution No. 639 to withdraw their signatures,” adding that signatories only want “to protect and uphold the freedom of the press and the freedom of expression,” in signing the resolution.

Cayetano already denied the allegations, saying that the signatories won’t reach more than 90 congressmen if he did apply pressure to them.

“Kung brinaso ko yan, baka mas maraming hindi pipirma,” said Cayetano.

But Cayetano also admitted that the signature drive launched by Lagman in support of his resolution is “an affront” to his Speakership.

“I think yung balita na withdrawal, sa iba once kasi that Cong. Lagman and the others started talking about discharge pag nag-discharge ka kasi youre challenging the leadership already eh,” said Cayetano.

“I said kung yung discharge kasi, paano kung lahat ng may nilalakad sa Congress, sabihin huwag natin sundin yung committee, then it will be an affront talaga to the present leadership,” he added.

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