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ABS-CBN franchise renewal tall order

CONTRARY to the statement of Deputy Speaker Lito Atienza, Deputy Speaker Rodante Marcoleta believes that it would be like going through the eye of a needle for any attempt to bring back to floor deliberations in 2021 the legislative franchise of ABS-CBN under the leadership of Speaker Lord Allan Velasco.

Marcoleta, representative of the SAGIP party-list and one of those who staunchly opposed granting a franchise to ABS-CBN, concedes the TV network has the right to apply for a franchise with the House of Representatives.

However, the grant of a franchise would depend on whether the network has undergone reform, management has been changed and it has paid for its violations.

“If they apply but the same people are behind the network, the facilities are the same, no changes have been done they may still be denied a franchise,” Marcoleta stressed.

Marcoleta also said that every provision of the franchise of ABS-CBN will be subjected to scrutiny, and it will take time for the granting of a new franchise.

“The provisions in their franchise from Section 1 down to the last will be looked into minutely to ensure that their violations will not be repeated, hence it will be some time yet before they can go back on air,” Marcoleta explained.

For its part, the Federation of International Cable TV and Telecommunications Association of the Philippines (FICTAP) said ABS-CBN should first pay the P1.6 trillion penalties for their alleged violations before they think of renewing their franchise.

“Before taking up the renewal in Congress, the government should be satisfied that the penalties have been paid, because we cable operators, if we have shortcomings with the National TGelecommuncations Commission (NTC), our permits are not renewed until we settle the penalties,” said FICTAP President Estrellita Tamano.

It will be recalled that Atienza said it is possible for the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise to be brought back on the floor for discussion under the new House leadership.

“I am really confident, justice will prevail by next year. They (ABS-CBN) were maltreated, they were maltreated, they were eventually assassinated, so they should be given justice. Ako, I am just giving the new Speaker time to settle. Hindi naman natin puwedeng biglain, major battle, kauupo lamang niya. But I am not shying away from the responsibility and for the opportunity to come – that I’m working on – para maibalik natin ‘yung floor discussion. Hindi ‘yung special firing squad ang pumatay sa ABS-CBN, firing squad eh,” Atienza said.

Meanwhile House Minority leader Joseph Stephen Paduano of Abang Lingkod partylist said that at the start of 2021 ABS-CBN can apply for renewal of franchise in accordance with the rules of the House of Represenatives.

Besides Atienza and the Makabayan Bloc other lawmakers who supported and sponsored resolutions for the franchise renewal of ABS-CBN were Rep. Sol Aragones, Lawrence Fortun, Mark Go, Rufus Rodriguez, Josephine Sato, Micaela Violago, Rosemarie Arenas, Loren Legarda, Vilma Santos-Recto an Joy Tambunting.

However Paduano and Kabayan partylist Rep. Ron Salo later withdrew their support.

To date no pro-ABS-CBN congressman has expressed intention to file a resolution proposing the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise.

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