Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Thursday hinted on the possibility that the House of Representatives will tackle the resolution and technical working group report of the legislative franchises committee rejecting the application for the renewal of the franchise to operate of ABS-CBN Corp.
Cayetano made the statement in response to the appeal of the Makabayan bloc and other legislators to allow a full and extensive debate on the matter, and that all House members be allowed to participate and vote on the measure in plenary session.
Cayetano said while it is not allowed under existing House rules, the plenary, under the Constitution, “has all the powers” and it still depends on the entire chamber to decide.
“Is it possible? Yes. Is it a regular procedure? No. So that’s what we need to clarify,” Cayetano said in an interview with The Source on CNN Philippines.
But Cayetano said the matter will not be a priority of the chamber when Congress opens its Second Regular Session next week as there are other priority measures needed to get passed to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our priority is fighting COVID-19. We’re dealing with so much work and unforeseen future uncertainties. So if you’re asking directly about the possibility, anything is possible (in the) plenary,” Cayetano said.
“Let’s not put in front and center because the reality is, we are in a pandemic and we have to focus on solving the day-to-day problems of our countrymen,” he added.
Earlier, several lawmakers supported the move of the Makabayan bloc to bring the franchise issue from the House legislative franchises committee to the plenary for deliberations.
Two of them, Deputy Speaker Vilma Santos-Recto and Parañaque City Rep. Joy Tambunting said the House plenary must decide on the divisive issue.
“We support it. The move to bring the matter to plenary might be an uphill climb considering the outcome of the franchise committee voting. As one of the authors of ABS-CBN franchise renewal, I’m still hoping that franchise will be given. I just hope for the best,” Santos said in a text message.
Tambunting echoed a similar view. “There’s a chance that it may succeed. There are (301) House members. Only 70 voted against the franchise,” she said.
She also suggested that the voting in the plenary be conducted via secret ballot to prevent pressure and fear of consequences when lawmakers cast their votes.
“If it’s a secret vote, I think there is a big chance. By secret voting, we don’t have to worry about consequences of our votes,” Tambunting said.