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Alan Cayetano: No intention to close down ABS-CBN pending Congress' action on franchise bills

ABS-CBN will continue to be on air amid the enhanced community quarantine due to COVID-19 and pending Congress’ decision on the fate of its franchise, House Speaker Alan Cayetano said Friday.

Cayetano made the comment given that at least 11 bills seeking ABS-CBN franchise renewal for another 25 years have been filed before the House Committee on Legislative Franchises since August 2019. The panel conducted its first hearing on the matter last March 10.

“Walang intention na ipasara sila, o gamitin ang sitwasyon na ito para roon. That is why we have instructed the NTC (National Telecommunications Commission) na dapat continued ang broadcast ng ABS-CBN,” Cayetano said in a CNN Philippines interview.

Cayetano was referring to the letter sent by the House of Representatives to the NTC asking it to allow ABS-CBN to continue its operations.

The Department of Justice also issued a legal opinion that NTC should allow ABS-CBN to be on air as long as both the House of Representatives and the Senate are in favor of it.

While the House sent a letter, the Senate adopted a resolution in favor of continuing ABS-CBN operation even if the network’s franchise is set to expire on May 4.

NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba eventually told the House Legislative Franchises panel that it will heed the advice of the Department of Justice (DOJ) and both houses of Congress to allow ABS-CBN to continue broadcasting.

“Nothing has changed. We guarantee them a fair hearing, and those who have complaints that it is being used as a political tool will be given the venue to air their side,” Cayetano added.

Luzon has been under enhanced community quarantine since March 16 to prevent COVID-19 transmission. This measure meant a ban on mass transport, prohibition of mass gatherings, and restricted movement resulting in work stoppage in many industries, including the House of Representatives.

Cayetano, however, conceded that the quarantine period, which was extended up to May 15 to give the government more time to ramp up mass testing and establish quarantine facilities to suspects and confirmed COVID-19 cases, was to the advantage of ABS-CBN.

“It seems that this extension would be to the benefit of ABS-CBN,” he added.—AOL, GMA News