ABS-CBN franchise issue best left to next Congress, says House franchise panel chair

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 28) - The issue of ABS-CBN's franchise renewal might be best addressed in the next Congress, according to House Committee on Legislative Franchises chairperson Rep. Franz Alvarez.

"Based on my understanding from the House leadership, the ABS-CBN franchise issue is best left to the next Congress," he said in a statement on Thursday.

Alvarez made the statement after Anakalusugan Party-list Rep. Mike Defensor, one of the 70 congressmen who junked ABS-CBN's franchise renewal application, urged the House plenary on Wednesday to tackle the pending bill that would grant the network an interim franchise.

House Bill No. 6732 seeks to provide ABS-CBN a provisional franchise until Oct. 31, 2020. However, Alvarez said the measure is already considered "moot and academic."

He noted that the issue was already "put to rest" when his committee decided to reject ABS-CBN's bid for another 25 years of franchise in July last year.

"Under the rules, anyone of the 70 House members who voted against the franchise application could file a motion for reconsideration on behalf of ABS-CBN to challenge the decision of the Committee," Alvarez explained. "Unfortunately, there was none, thus the Committee decision has become final."

House Bill 6372 was filed by then House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and seven other lawmakers in May 2020. But it's second reading approval was recalled after lawmakers raised that it was unconstitutional for the chamber to approve it both on first and second readings on the same day.

The House did not tackle the bill and just proceeded to discuss the bills that would grant ABS-CBN a fresh franchise.

Early this month, Batangas 6th District Rep. Vilma Santos-Recto filed a bill that would renew ABS-CBN's franchise. Senate President Vicente Sotto III filed a similar bill in the upper chamber.