House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said Friday the Congress would ‘fix the mess others make’ concerning the pending franchise renewal of ABS-CBN.
“We would have wanted to do this in an orderly manner. But what we want and what we have to deal with are two different things. So this Congress has no choice but to once again rise to the occasion and fix the mess others make,” Cayetano said in a Facebook post.
Cayetano, who is a former senator and President Rodrigo Duterte’s vice-president candidate in 2016, started his statement on ABS-CBN’s closure with a Bible verse: “But you, LORD, know all their plots to kill me. Do not forgive their crimes or blot out their sins from your sight. Let them be overthrown before you; deal with them in the time of your anger.” ~ Jeremiah 18:23
“As early as my first month as Speaker of the House of Representatives I already put on record what the priorities of Congress would be, including when we would tackle the franchise renewal of ABS-CBN,” he said.
He then explained that they were forced to adjust the Congressional calendar due to the swift passage of the 2020 budget, the Malasakit Center Act, and the creation of the Department of Overseas Filipino Workers, the eruption of Taal Volcano in January.
“This was aggravated by the growing threat of COVID-19, which as early as February 14, I was already mentioning as another urgent matter that Congress would have to immediately deal with,” he added.
He said the “House tried to gain a consensus with the Executive Department, through the DOJ and the NTC, to allow us time to properly address the ABS-CBN issue in the midst of all the other more important problems facing the country.”
House Speaker Alan Cayetano explains Congress’ side on ABS-CBN franchise
House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said that in March, they trusted the word of National Telecommunications Commission that it would give ABS-CBN a Provisional Authority that would allow the network to continue broadcasting until the Congress was able to reach a final decision.
“With this assurance, we wasted no time in addressing the bigger threat facing the country,” he said.
“During the two-month Congressional break our members, led by Majority Floor Leader Martin Romualdez worked tirelessly to address the now COVID-19 pandemic. Through a combination of technology and old fashioned hard work, Congress was able to pass the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act to provide assistance to our kababayans affected by the ECQ, and we were able to hold online hearings almost on a daily basis. A ground-breaking practice that is now being copied by other government agencies here, and in other parts of the world,” he added.
NTC ambushed Congress says Cayetano
“Last Tuesday we were all ambushed by the NTC,” he said.
“Despite their assurance given under oath. Despite the legal opinion of the Department of Justice. Despite a resolution from the Senate, and several verbal and written assurances given to Congress – the NTC appears to have succumbed to pressure from the Solicitor General, and issued a cease and desist order to ABS-CBN,” he added.
Cayetano said the Committee on Legislative Franchises would conduct “fair, impartial, thorough, and comprehensive” hearings for the ABS-CBN franchise.