Velasco leaves fate of ABS-CBN franchise to next Congress

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 22) — House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco is leaving to the 19th Congress the fate of broadcast network ABS-CBN after his chamber rejected its franchise renewal last year.

"I believe sa next Congress na po talaga matatalakay iyan (that will be tackled in the next Congress)," Velasco told CNN Philippines' The Source in a taped interview on Thursday.

Velasco said the 18th Congress "already decided on the issue" and will prioritize many key measures when it resumes session on July 26.

ABS-CBN first went dark on May 5, 2020 after it received a cease-and-desist order from the National Telecommunications Commission. The Lopez-owned company failed to get back on air after the House Committee on Legislative Franchises thumbed down its bid for a fresh 25-year license for its broadcast operations with an overwhelming 70-11 vote.

READ: House panel denies ABS-CBN's bid for fresh franchise

Velasco, an ally of President Rodrigo Duterte, said in February that the House is "bent on finishing the remaining priority measures" of the administration to ensure that the President "fulfills his campaign promise" to the public. In that same month, Duterte said in his televised address he will forbid ABS-CBN from resuming operations unless the Lopezes settle their allegedly unpaid taxes.

ABS-CBN has repeatedly denied the accusations and maintained it has no outstanding tax liability. The Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Securities and Exchange Commission said last year the network has been compliant with regulations, contrary to allegations lodged against the company.