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OK na kay Duterte? PDP stalwarts back ABS-CBN franchise renewal

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By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN

Top honchos of the ruling PDP Laban party in the House of Representatives have joined calls for the renewal of the legislative franchise of broadcast giant ABS-CBN.

PDP Laban executive vice-president and Deputy Speaker Aurelio “Dong” Gonzales together Deputy Speakers Johnny Pimentel and Salvador “Doy” Leachon filed House Bill No. 5608—a proposed legislation that seeks to grant the “Kapamily Network,” a fresh 25-year congressional franchise.

The move comes with less than five months remaining in the current congressional franchise of ABS-CBN under Republic Act No. 7966 that will expire in early March 2020.

HB 5608 is the sixth measure filed under the 18th Congress in connection with the franchise renewal of ABS-CBN amidst uncertainties following the recent pronouncement last month by House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano the “there are real issues” need to be tackled by Congress over the matter.

Cayetano earlier admitted that he has a personal grudge against the network for supposedly meddling by some of its executives in the political arena during the height of the 2016 national elections especially in the presidential polls won by President Rodrigo Duterte.

“I feel that there’s certain instances in history and in the 2016 election na naki-alam unjustly some sectors or some leaders of ABS, so how do you sort it out?” said Cayetano

Cayetano has also accused ABS-CBN of rendering VIP treatment to a specific candidate during the in the vice-presidential race in that same elections.

But for Gonzales, Pimentel, and Leachon, ABS-CBN’s “various achievement in the broadcast industry… certainly warrant the renewal of the broadcast franchise to insure the uninterrupted and improved delivery of its service to the Filipino people.”

The broadcast giant in 2016 failed to air Duterte’s political ad during the final stretch of the campaign period despite paying close to P20 million in fees and instead aired a smear campaign commercial against him which was paid by former Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV.

Duterte on several occasions threatened ABS-CBN that he will veto its franchise renewal if ever it will hurdle congressional approval.

But Cayetano gave an assurance that the Lower House under his helm will exercise fairness in tackling the matter amidst earlier opposition from the chief executive.

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