ABS-CBN franchise allies told: Pull out old bills before filing new bid

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    ANAKALUSUGAN party-list Rep. Michael Defensor yesterday said authors of measures seeking to renew the franchise of ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp. will have to withdraw their old and already-denied bills first before filing new ones and re-opening deliberations at the House of Representatives.

    Defensor said the denied franchise bills are still under the “unfinished business” status even after 70 congressmen voted against granting the network a franchise to operate in July last year.

    “So what’s the quickest solution if you want to start this again in the committee? All the original authors from Day One, all the 12 who authored franchise renewal bills, should all withdraw and a new franchise law should be filed,” Defensor told reporters in Filipino.

    The lawmaker was among those who voted against the franchise renewal after the issues against ABS-CBN was jointly investigated by the committees on good government and public accountability and the committee on legislative franchises.

    The House committee on legislative franchises adopted a recommendation of its technical working group to reject the bills seeking to grant ABS-CBN a fresh 25-year franchise, citing numerous violations of the terms of its old franchise which expired on May 4 last year.

    Defensor, who was removed as chair of the committee on public accounts last month by the new House leadership as a consequence of his support for former speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, explained that while the matter was already put to a vote and denied in the committee level, it is considered “laid on the table” under the House rules.

    “Again, it is part of parliamentary courtesy which means that it is not being deliberately killed,” he said. “It’s laid on the table but it’s technically voted down. But laid on the table means, the bill is still there, it was just set aside,” he added.

    Defensor said this is why no one can file new franchise renewal bills because technically, there is still a pending bill, albeit already denied in the committee level.

    Batangas Rep. Vilma Santos late Monday afternoon said she was already preparing to refile her bill renewing the TV giant’s franchise under the leadership of new Speaker Lord Allan Jay Velasco.

    The move was made after Senate President Vicente Sotto III sought the renewal of the franchise granted to television giant ABS-CBN Corporation for another 25 years.

    Sotto believes the bill will give the broadcasting network a better chance at getting back on air under the new leadership of the House of Representatives.