House Speaker Cayetano vows impartial hearing on bills seeking ABS-CBN franchise renewal

Robie de Guzman   •   February 12, 2020   •   537

MANILA, Philippines – House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano has assured that the House of Representatives will conduct impartial hearing on bills seeking to renew the franchise of media network ABS-CBN.

In a statement on Tuesday, Cayetano said the renewal of ABS-CBN franchise are among the issues that the Lower House has been “carefully studying from day one of the 18th Congress” amid calls from his colleagues to set a hearing to tackle the pending bills.

“Congress is committed to conduct a hearing where those who are against or in favor of the renewal may make their case,” he said, adding that the move will be consistent with the Duterte administration’s stand on the protection of the freedom of expression.

There are at least 11 bills seeking for the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise pending before a House committee level, just about a month before Congress sessions adjourn on March 11. The network’s franchise is set to expire on March 30.

However, Cayetano stressed that the legislation process cannot be rushed.

“While we understand that there are certain interests who want to rush this process, we stand by the leadership of the 18th Congress and the Committee on Legislative Fanchises on how to prioritize urgent and important legislation,” he said.

“We also commit that the 18th Congress shall study this issue from all aspects in order to protect the interest of the public,” he added.

Cayetano issued the statement after Solicitor General Jose Calida filed a quo warranto case before the Supreme Court asking for the forfeiture of the legislative franchise of ABS-CBN.

Calida cited in his plea the alleged highly abusive practices and violations of the broadcast network, including foreign ownership and lack of operation permits.

The network has denied the accusations, maintaining that it has no outstanding tax liability and did not violate the law.

House panel approves P1.5-T fund to create jobs amid COVID-19 pandemic

Aileen Cerrudo   •   May 28, 2020

The House Defeat COVID-19 Committee has approved a bill seeking to provide a P1.5-trillion fund to create sustainable jobs amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

House Bill 6709 or the proposed “COVID-19 Unemployment Reduction Economic Stimulus (CURES) Act of 2020″ is set to fund infrastructure projects in rural areas to help curb unemployment amid the pandemic.

The CURES Act of 2020 shall also be undertaken with the “Balik Probinsya Bagong Pag-asa Program” and the immediate funding of CURES projects shall target the construction of health centers, school buildings, vocational learning centers, as well as improving fish ports and trading centers at barangay levels.

The House Bill is expected to be sponsored on Thursday (May 28) for its 2nd reading approval in the plenary on Thursday afternoon. It will have to go through a 3rd and final reading before it can hurdle the House.

Meanwhile, representatives of other government agencies such as the Department of Health (DOH), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Education (DepEd) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) also endorsed the approval of the proposed CURES Act of 2020. –AAC

House solon wants charter change proposals shelved ‘indefinitely’

Robie de Guzman   •   May 21, 2020

Cagayan de Oro Second District Representative Rufus Rodriguez

MANILA, Philippines – Cagayan de Oro Second District Representative Rufus Rodriguez on Thursday said he will propose the suspension of deliberations on the controversial charter change (Cha-Cha) proposals amid the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Rodriguez, who chairs the House committee on constitutional amendments, said he is inclined to recommend to House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano to “shelve Cha-Cha indefinitely” to focus on discussing measures to address the public health crisis and help the Filipino people prepare for the ‘new normal’.

The lawmaker made the proposal following claims that the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and other advocates initiated moves to gather up to two million signatures in support of Cha-Cha.

“This is not the time for the DILG and its allies to relaunch their signature drive and renew their push for Cha-cha. They should postpone it until this health crisis is over,” Rodriguez said in a statement.

“So my message to Cha-cha advocates and their DILG patrons is: stop it, it won’t fly while there is a pandemic,” he added.

Rodriguez said pushing for Cha-Cha can wait as Congress will first have to attend to measures that will “save lives and the livelihood of our people.”

The DILG earlier denied it has launched a signature campaign for Cha-Cha, branding these reports as fake news. RRD (with details from Correspondent Vincent Arboleda)

Lawmaker files bill granting new franchise to ABS-CBN

Aileen Cerrudo   •   May 6, 2020

Cagayan de Oro City 2nd District Representative Rufus Rodriguez has filed a bill that would grant ABS-CBN Corporation a new franchise.

On Wednesday (May 6), Rodriguez filed House Bill No. 6694 proposing to grant ABS-CBN a new legislative franchise for 25 years.

“In order to continue to provide uninterrupted and improved delivery of its services to the Filipino people, the franchise should be granted in the soonest possible time,” he said.

The House representative also filed House Joint Resolution (HJR) No. 30 provisional franchise to ABS-CBN until June 2022.

According to Rodriguez, this is while both the Senate and the House of Representatives “need additional time to review, assess, and determine whether or not ABS-CBN shall be granted a new franchise.” AAC (with reports from Vincent Arboleda)

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