‘Maybe we should have a new Speaker’: Solon slams House inaction in ABS-CBN franchise case

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 24)— A lawmaker on Monday took a swipe at the inaction of the House of Representatives in the controversial franchise renewal case of media giant ABS-CBN, even suggesting for the lower chamber to have a change in leadership.

Buhay Party-List Rep. Lito Atienza said he does not believe Congress is “too busy” to tackle the long-pending renewal measures— a total of 11 pending before the committee level. This is contrary to the previous claim of House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, who said lawmakers will instead prioritize “more urgent” bills on the table.

“I don't know what Speaker Cayetano is waiting for, the President has already admonished him,” Atienza told CNN Philippines’ The Source. “If he doesn't follow the President, then the thing will speak for itself. Maybe we should have a new Speaker.”

“Without knowing it, maybe he is destroying the institution of the Lower House now especially on the eve of our restoring it to full existence,” he added, referring to the anniversary of the EDSA People Power revolution.

Atienza also claimed the leadership has asked some Congressmen to withdraw their signatures from the resolution urging the panel to immediately tackle the bills.

“They're moving heaven and earth to ask those 90 to withdraw. That's another insidious, self-destructing measure… How can the Speaker be talking to the members to withdraw their signatures?” Atienza said.

Addressing calls for him to resign, Cayetano meanwhile said he would leave his fate up to the process-- and his fellow Congressmen.

"Ang panawagan sa pag-resign ay ginagawa sa floor... The moment na ayaw na ako ng majority ng mga kongresista, aalis ako," Cayetano told reporters on Monday.

[Translation: The calls for resignation shall be done at the floor. The moment majority of the Congressman don't like me anymore, I will go.]

"Ayoko na pag na-pressure ng media, maghi-hearing na kaagad. Kung kayang tanggapin 'to ng majority ng kongresista, thank you. Kung hindi, then it's time to choose a new leader, bahala na kayo," he added.

[Translation: I don't like it that once there's pressure from the media, you'll hold hearings immediately. If majority of Congressman understands this, then thank you. If not, then it's time to choose a new leader, I'll leave it up to you.]

While the lower chamber has yet to officially calendar a hearing on the franchise bills, the House committee on legislative franchises has already begun the preliminary proceedings.

Lawmakers as well as concerned stakeholders were ordered to submit position papers on the issue, as the panel seeks to collate the merits and complaints of the case.

Panel vice chairman Isabela Rep. Tonypet Albano, however, stressed that lawmakers may only be able to take up and vote on the bills by May at the earliest, once the committee finishes the review of the documents.

Under the term-sharing deal on the House leadership, Cayetano is set to serve as Speaker until October. Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, who comes from the President’s party PDP-Laban, will take over the remainder of the 18th Congress.

Cayetano previously expressed desire to stay on as House leader until 2022, but said he would still consult with President Rodrigo Duterte whether or not to relinquish post.

RELATED: Velasco: Cayetano to honor term-sharing deal

CNN Philippines is reaching out to Cayetano for comment.