The proposed measure, sponsored by House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, seeks to allow the broadcasting center to operate until October 31, 2020, while Congress deliberates on whether to grant it a fresh 25-year franchise.
The bill needs to be approved on third and final reading and sent to the Senates. After both chambers agree on the proposal, the bill will be sent to President Rodrigo Duterte for enactment.
ABS-CBN went off the air on May 5 following a shutdown order from NTC, a day after the expiration of its franchise.
However, both the NTC and the House have been blamed for the network’s closure, since the regulator earlier promised to give it provisional authority, while the lower chamber refused to tackle bills on the renewal of its franchise.
Cayetano said it was still “not the time” to tackle the issues surrounding ABS-CBN’s operations, but stressed that the House has to “do what is right”. It was “wrong for the government” to stop the network’s TV and Radio Broadcasts amid the coronavirus pandemic, Cayetano added.
Cayetano also hit Solicitor General Jose Calida for his “unconstitutional meddling” when he warned that a provisional permit could expose the NTC commissioners to graft charges.
However, Cayetano also blamed ABS-CBN for immediately going off-air following NTC’s order. He called it a “strategy.”
“Maybe you wanted to humble yourself before the law, maybe you are seeking sympathy,” he said.
He called on the network, its employees, and celebrities, along with its supporters from the media and even the House, to stop calling for an automatic franchise renewal and let the Congress do its job.
“We will provide ABS-CBN with a provisional franchise valid for October 31, 2020, within which time both the House of Representatives and the Senate will hear the issues being raised for and against the renewal, and assess, with complete impartiality and fairness, whether or not the network shall be granted a franchise,” Cayetano said.