Reacting to a query from reporters, Deputy Speaker and Batangas Rep. Vilma Santos said she will revive the rejected ABS-CBN legislative franchise application in the House of Representatives before session resumes on January 18.
Santos welcomed the move by Senate President Vicente Sotto III who filed a bill granting ABS-CBN a new legislative franchise to operate the broadcast network in the next 25 years.
Santos and Sotto are both actors. Santos was a former contract star of the network while Sotto used to be a mainstay of several entertainment and public affairs programs of GMA-7, ABS CBN’s fiercest rival.
The Senate is barred from approving Sotto’s legislative franchise bill without the Lower House’s nod on a similar measure.
Asked to comment, Ako Bicol Partylist Rep. Alfredo Garbin said the only way the Lower House can reactivate all ABS-CBN legislative franchise bill already laid on the table by a committee is for the Lower House to revive it during a plenary session.
Apparently, such is Santos’ plan if she would indeed file a new bill that will have to be referred on first reading to the Committee on Legislative Franchises during plenary proceeding.
“Tabled measure may refer to any bill or resolution which finally disposed of adversely by the body for its lack of interest to consider such measure,” said Garbin, vice chairman of the House Committee on Justice and a member of the legislative franchises panel.
He pointed out that a review of the committee decision may only be possible with the unanimous consent of the panel that laid the measure on the table or by suspension of the rules.
It will be recalled that the legislative franchise panel denied on July 10 the network giant’s application for congressional legislative license for another 25 years.
In dismissing a dozen of legislative franchise bills at the time, 70 members of the panel voted to adopt the “Resolution Denying the Franchise Application of ABS-CBN Corporation to Construct, Install, Establish, Operate and Maintain Radio and Broadcasting Stations in the Philippines.”
Eleven voted against the resolution, one abstained while two members, one of them QC Rep. Alfred Vargas, inhibited themselves from voting.
After voting to reject the ABS-CBN bills, the committee chaired by Palawan Rep. Franz Alvarez voted unanimously to lay the bills on the table.
“At the end of the day the plenary can always overturn the adverse decision of the committee,” said Garbin, who is also chairman of the House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reform. (Ben R. Rosario)