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Atienza to Speaker: Resolve ABS-CBN franchise row now

Lito Atienza
Rep. Lito Atienza

REP. Lito Atienza urged Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Monday to stop dribbling the ABS-CBN franchise issue and put an end to “the inquisitorial” hearings by bringing the matter to the House plenary for resolution.

“The ball is in the hands of Speaker Cayetano. It’s time for him to shoot now,” Atienza said on the eve of the eighth day of hearing on the several bills seeking the renewal of the ABS-CBN franchise.

The Buhay partylist congressman, speaking on Zoom online conferencing app at the Kapihan sa Manila Hotel hosted by the Samahang Plaridel, said the hearings had dragged on to become the longest proceeding ever for a franchise renewal because of the repeated accusations raised by the opponents of the ABS-CBN franchise.

He said the oppositors — Reps. Rodante Marcoleta, Crispin Remulla, Elpidio Barzaga and Michael Defensor – had repeatedly raised accusations of alleged violations that ABS-CBN officials had repeatedly answered satisfactorily.

“They have turned this into a prosecution, not a hearing,’’ he said. “They are oppressing the witnesses.” He repeated the word “browbeating,” saying there’s no other word to describe their treatment of the ABS-CBN officials.  He used during the last hearing on Wednesday to which Remulla had objected as unparliamentary.

“Marcoleta has been monopolizing the hearing and Remulla had been lording it over, strutting like a peacock,’” he said.

At one point, Marcoleta accused ABS-CBN of acquiring a franchise totalling 150 years and denied its lawyer to answer the accusation. At another time, Marcoleta cut short the testimony of 92-year old lawyer Jake Almeda Lopez, a long-time official of the network, as the “narrative of a grand old man trying to revisit the past.”

The two committees will hold their eighth hearing on Tuesday.

Atienza, who co-authored a resolution urging the House of Representatives to take action on the ABS-CBN application for franchise in March, said it is now time to bring the matter to a vote at the plenary.

The delay, he said is a waste of congressional time and “ a waste of people’s patience.

“It is unfair to ABS-CBN, to its 11,000 employees and their families and to the Filipinos dependent on ABS-CBN for accurate news delivery and entertainment,’’ he said.