MANILA, Philippines – After 12 difficult marathon hearings that dealt with multiple issues that jumped media giant ABS-CBN’s bid for a 25-year franchise, lawmakers who are for and against the franchise summarized their arguments on Thursday, marking the end of debates over the highly controversial issue – at least at the level of the House Committee.
Now that Parliament’s Committee on Legislative Franchises and the Committee on Corporate Governance and Public Accountability have rejected the negotiation of ABS-CBN’s franchise application, the question now is: What’s next?
Prior to the interruption of the hearing, Palawan 1st District Representative Franz Alvarez, who chairs the Legislative Franchise Committee, formed a technical working group (TWG) that will be tasked with “studying and drafting the recommendations for applying for a ABS-CBN franchise”
Their report on TWG – compiled by Vice President Pablo John Garcia, Camiguin Rep. Xavier Jesus Romualdo and Marikina 2nd District Representative Stella Luz Quimbo – will be presented during the Legislative Franchise Committee’s meeting on Friday, July 10.
However, Alvarez did not mention whether the vote on ABS-CBN’s franchise bid will pass the committee level will also take place during Friday’s meeting.
Vote for franchise
While the Joint Committees handled the hearings, only voting members of the Legislative Franchise Committee, as well as Parliament officials, are considered ex-officio members.
According to the representatives’ website, the Legislative Franchise Committee has 46 members, including Alvarez.
There are also 46 chamber officials who are considered ex-officio members of the committee, which includes leaders of the lower chamber such as President Alan Peter Cayetano and Majority Leader Martin Romualdez and Minority Leader Bienvenido Abante Jr.
The house rules stipulate that one fifth of all members of a committee must be present to make a decision.
“The President, Deputy Speaker, Majority Leader, Deputy Majority Leader, Minority Leader, Deputy Minority Leader and Chairman of the Accounting Committee or any member replaced by any of the aforementioned officials shall be included in the total number of committee members for the purpose of determining the presence of a quorum. in a meeting, ”says the house rule.
If the majority of legislators will vote for the grant of a franchise, the application will be brought to the House where a further set of debates will take place – this time, with the 302 members of the House.
At the House, sponsors of the bill granting ABS-CBN a 25-year franchise may be interpelled by members of the House before the measure is approved at second and third reading.
Once the bill has been approved at the third and final reading of the House, the Riksdag is transferred to the Senate, where it will go through another set of deliberations by the senators.
On May 5, the day the ABS-CBN was closed, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said that the upper chamber would “approve“The media giant’s franchise bid.
The bill should similarly go through three readings in the Senate, similar to the process in the House before it gets the nod of Congress.
Refusal of the franchise application
But if the majority of legislators involved in the vote at the House committee level choose to deny the franchise bid from ABS-CBN, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate told INQUIRER.net that “in general, if the action is lost in committee, it’s done.”
However, there are measures that ABS-CBN and legislators that are in favor of the franchise can take, including the resubmission of a new bill that will undergo the same process as the denied bills for the franchise underwent.
Zarate also revealed that there is a rule where a person who voted with the majority – in this scenario, a person who voted against the franchise renewal – can submit a motion for reconsideration.
“[One remedy is] when a member file[s] for a motion for reconsideration, but not everyone can submit a motion for reconsideration. Only one member who voted with the majority can vote for a motion for reconsideration, ”Zarate said.
“The motion for reconsideration will be heard at the same meeting if it is raised in the same meeting or if it is raised on the same day on writing, it should be calendar by the Committee on Hearing,” the legislator adds.
The House Committees for Legislative Franchise and the Committee on Corporate Governance and Public Accountability held 12 hearings addressing various issues raised by ABS-CBN, such as the citizenship of the network’s chairman emeritus Gabby Lopez, the Lopez family’s recovery of the company following the EDSA revolution, the network’s commitment to network engagement tax-related issues and their alleged political bias were discussed, among other things.
The two committees held another hearing on Thursday, summarizing their arguments for and against the franchise. – with a report from Christia Marie Ramos[ac]