The provisional franchise that Congress plans to grant to ABS-CBN should be at least a year, as the measure approved in the House of Representatives until October 2020 may not be enough time, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said on Thursday.
“It would be better if we give a provisional franchise longer than one year,” Zubiri said in a virtual interview.
Zubiri said the measure approved on second reading by the House of Representatives, which seeks to give a provisional franchise to ABS-CBN valid until October 31, 2020, would likely not be enough to ensure that the company will not face the same dilemma again because of pending congressional decision.
Zubiri said that Congress will adjourn on June 3 and will only convene again during the State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Rodrigo Duterte on July 27.
“Ilang buwan na lang, dalawang buwan na lang ang maiiwan para talakayin muli ang ABS-CBN franchise at dahil doon baka magkaproblema ulit lalo na kung magkaroon ng second wave o third wave ng COVID-19,” he said.
“You have to remember that’s typhoon season so baka sunod-sunod na po ang bagyo by that time… diyan tayo nakatutok sa relief and rescue operations,” he added.
Zubiri said a bill seeking to give ABS-CBN a provisional franchise until June 30, 2022 has also been recently filed in the Senate.
He said the Senate will be open to compromise when the time comes to iron out disagreeing provisions of the measure with the House of Representatives.
“What we’re trying to guarantee is by June 3 mayroon na po tayong ratified provisional franchise,” he said.
The Senate committee on public service will conduct a hearing on ABS-CBN’s franchise this coming Tuesday.
Zubiri said the committee report could be sponsored on Wednesday, and the measure could hurdle the second reading on May 25.
The third and final reading may happen on June 1 and the ratified version may be approved on June 3, he added.
If the projected timeline will be followed, Zubiri said Duterte may be able to sign it by the end of June and ABS-CBN may be back on air again in July./Stacy Ang