All 302 members of the House should be given the chance to vote on the bill seeking to extend ABS-CBN Corp.’s franchise by another 25 years, Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza said Sunday.
“The entire House should openly debate on the bill, and then vote on it. This will allow every member to be heard, and to freely decide on the franchise,” said Atienza, former three-term mayor of Manila.
“We cannot just wash our hands of the bill. That would be tantamount to Congress renouncing its exclusive power to grant legislative franchises,” Atienza pointed out.
Atienza was responding to suggestions that the House might just allow ABS-CBN’s franchise to lapse on March 30, without taking any action on the bill.
Atienza rejected as a “pipedream” the claim of some of his colleagues that even without a renewed franchise, ABS-CBN could still operate until March 2022 by obtaining a two-year provisional authority from the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC).
“That is a fantasy. The NTC will simply say we cannot possibly give you a provisional authority because the chief lawyer of the Republic wants to shut you down,” Atienza said, referring to the Solicitor General’s petition before the Supreme Court to forfeit the media network’s franchise./Stacy Ang