One of the authors of a bill renewing ABS-CBN’s franchise on Thursday dumped the proposal for the government’s temporary use of ABS-CBN’s television and radio frequencies to provide an alternative distance-learning program for the Department of Education.
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, a lawyer, said the government or a private company could not use the frequencies of ABS-CBN just yet.
ABS-CBN failed to renew its franchise after the House of Representatives committee on legislative franchises voted against it.
“Before the frequencies assigned to ABS-CBN are reallocated, the network must first be afforded the opportunity to exhaust all remedies,” Lagman said in response to House Resolution No. 1044 of Deputy Speaker and Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte.
“Exhausting all possible delivery modes such as the use of untapped television and radio frequencies as those vacated by ABS-CBN is important in keeping students engaged amid the learning crisis sweeping across the globe as a result of the coronavirus disease,” read the resolution.
Lagman made his statement even as the Labor department said it was ready to extend assistance to all ABS-CBN employees who may be displaced as a result of the non-renewal of the network’s franchise.
Labor Undersecretary Ana Dione has ordered the department’s National Capital Region office to determine the number of ABS-CBN employees and the nature of their employment.
“This early, we need to know how many and who among their workers are entitled to those benefits,” Dione said in a statement.
Lagman said Villafuerte’s recommendation was not possible just yet with ABS-CBN’s pending petition for certiorari at the Supreme Court to void the denial of its franchise.
He did not discount the possibility that the proposal was part of a “hidden agenda” in light of the reported interest of some businessmen to take over the network’s franchise.
“The hidden and insidious agenda for rejecting a fresh franchise for ABS-CBN will soon surface or be uncovered,” Lagman said.
Villafuerte, in filing his resolution, said the Philippines was among the countries experiencing a “learning crisis” brought on by the pandemic.
“The unused frequencies may also be used for information on COVID-19 prevention and control, risk reduction and preparedness,” he said.