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House takes back bill granting ABS-CBN provisional franchise to plenary

The House of Representatives on Monday returned to the plenary the measure granting ABS-CBN a provisional franchise until October 31, 2020 to accommodate additional interpellations and amendments from lawmakers.

During the plenary session, the motion of Deputy Majority Leader Wilter Wee "Sharky" Palma was approved seeking to reconsider the second reading approval of House Bill 6732 to allow the request of his colleagues for further deliberation.

"Let me make this of record that at anytime the House can approve this bill on third reading, but because of the insistence of our colleagues to interpellate further on the matter, I move that we reconsider approval on second reading of House Bill 6732," he said.

House Bill 6732, which Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano himself and seven other House leaders authored, was filed and referred to the Committee on Rules on Wednesday, and was consecutively approved at the committee level and on second reading on the same day.

This became possible after the House constituted itself to a Committee of the Whole instead of referring the bill to the House Committee on Legislative Franchises to undergo deliberations.

Cayetano himself sponsored the measure on the floor during the deliberations.

Cagayan De Oro City Representative Rufus Rodriguez, however, questioned the manner of the approval of the measure.

He cited Article VI, Section 26, Paragraph 2 of the Constitution which states that no bill will become a law "unless it passes three readings on separate days."

"The problem with that is that the two readings were done on the same day," Rodriguez said.

"So to cure that, so that there will be no chance that there will be a case filed in court that will again question that because of this constitutional requirement, it's better that we have a curative measure of bringing it back to the plenary and approve it again on second reading this Monday separately from the second reading last Wednesday," he added.

Rodriguez said the measure can then be approved on third reading by Monday next week, as there should be at least three session days before a measure is approved on final reading.

"Three days is the requirement because we don't have a certificate of urgency from the President," he said.

Absent a vild franchise, ABS-CBN went off air on May 5 after the NTC issued it a cease and desist order to stop its broadcast operations.

Its franchise expired on May 4. The broadcast network has since brought the matter before the Supreme Court. — RSJ, GMA News