Romualdez: Still ‘premature’ to comment on fate of ABS-CBN franchise
MANILA, Philippines — House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez on Tuesday said it is still “premature” to affirm if the lower chamber would commit to process the proposal on the legislated franchise of ABS-CBN Corp.
This is because, according to Romualdez, the House of Representatives is still organizing its committees.
“We have not actually gotten to that point yet… While we’re busy reorganizing we haven’t gotten to the point yet of actually sifting through all the bills that were read out for first reading or for referral,” the Leyte representative said in a press conference when asked if the House leadership has already committed to process the franchise bill of the radio-television network.
“But as time goes by, we shall update you on that pero I believe it’s premature to comment on that at this early stage. Soon enough we will know,” he added.
INQUIRER.net has reached House legislative franchises panel chair, Palawan 1st District Rep. Franz Alvarez, for comment but he has yet to issue a remark as of posting time.
House Bill No. 676, which seeks to renew the network’s franchise for another 25 years, was referred to the legislative franchises committee last July 23. ABS-CBN’s franchise will expire on March 30, 2020.
The 17th Congress’ version of the proposed law remained pending at the committee on legislative franchises since November 16, 2016. The panel did not act on the bill until the previous Congress adjourned sine die.
President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly launched threats against media outfits critical of his administration like the Lopez-owned ABS-CBN, the broadsheet Philippine Daily Inquirer, and the online news site Rappler. He even threatened to block the franchise renewal of ABS-CBN, accusing the network of estafa for allegedly not providing him the airtime he had paid for.
Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar earlier said he believes the President would not veto the franchise renewal of ABS-CBN once it’s approved by Congress.
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