Nearly 1/3 of House members want to hear ABS-CBN franchise renewal but fear Duterte backlash
At least 81 members of the House of Representatives have reportedly signed a resolution seeking to extend the franchise of ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp. which would expire on 30 March 2020.
This was revealed by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman who declined to reveal the signatories without their consent. Lagman feared that these lawmakers could earn the ire of President Rodrigo Duterte who has publicly declared he would make sure that ABS-CBN would “out” and advised its bilyonaryo owners, the Lopezes, to just sell out.
There are roughly a dozen bills pending with the Committee on Franchise seeking to extend ABS-CBN’s franchise.
But Committee chair, Palawan Rep. Alvarez, is reportedly under strict orders from the President himself not to hold a single hearing for the ABS-CBN franchise until its expiration.
Efforts to extend ABS-CBN’s life have become even more urgent with less than a month before Congress goes on a summer break on March 11 and with Solicitor General Jose Calida asking the Supreme Court to revoke its franchise for abusing its privilege and breaking the Constitutional ban on foreign ownership of media.
The bills continue to gather dust before the committee on legislative franchises chaired by Palawan Rep. Franz Alvarez, even as the clock ticks against the Lopez-owned ABS-CBN, the current franchise of which will expire on March 30 this year.