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Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano

Cayetano wants to tackle ABS-CBN franchise in August

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House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Thursday said the House hearing on ABS-CBN's franchise renewal could be held a week after President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his State of the Nation Address (SONA) in July.

In an interview, Cayetano said the franchise hearing may be scheduled either in May or in August after the President’s SONA, which is delivered every fourth Monday of July.

“There are two options: (one) is that in May depende kung ano matapos namin (depending on what we can accomplish) in the next three weeks and the longer option is right after SONA... objectively is early August,” Cayetano said.

He noted that based on the legislative calendar, the session days are shorter in May which would only last until the first month of June, as compared to the lengthier period of July until October.

“Hindi ito teleserye na magandang bitin di ba? Kung mag-hearing tayo ng dalawang linggo at kulang ang oras tapos mag recess tayo, o kahit hindi mag recess during the recess mag hearing hindi mo naman maidadala sa plenaryo, walang mangyayari (This is not like a television soap opera that gets better with cliffhangers, right? If we would hold hearings for two weeks and there’s not enough time because of congressional recess, or even if we conduct hearings during recess, we could still not tackle it before the plenary),” Cayetano said.

“Pero dito sa Kongeso, in my experience, mas mabuti na inumpisahan natin tapusin na natin (But here in Congress, in my experience, it would be better to finish what we’ve started),” he added.

Last week, Solicitor General Jose Calida filed a quo warranto case before the Supreme Court (SC) seeking the invalidation of ABS-CBN’s legislative franchise.

Calida claimed ABS-CBN allegedly violated the 1987 Constitution when it allowed foreign investors to take part in its ownership by issuing Philippine Deposit Receipts through ABS-CBN Holdings Corp.

Section 11(1), Article 16 of the 1987 Constitution emphasizes that ownership and management of Philippine mass media are limited to Filipino citizens or Philippine corporations, cooperatives, and associations.

The filing of the quo warranto suit came as ABS-CBN’s franchise will expire on March 30 this year.

On Tuesday, Calida also filed a gag order before SC to prevent parties from issuing statements on pending quo warranto petition against the congressional franchise of ABS-CBN.

Several lawmakers claimed the network can still operate while measures for the renewal of its legislative franchise are still pending before Congress.

On Monday, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon filed a resolution, extending ABS-CBN’s franchise until Dec. 31, 2022, to give lawmakers enough time to review the broadcast network’s application for a new license to operate.

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