ON Tuesday, May 19th, embattled network ABS-CBN suffered two major blows at the House of Representatives and in the Supreme Court.
For one, the highest court of the land decided not to issue a temporary restraining order or TRO against the cease-and-desist order of the National Telecommunications Commission or NTC against the network.
With that, they will remain off- air after their franchise has expired last May 4th.
Another blow was when House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano withdrawn his bill that seeks to grant ABS- CBN a temporary 5-month franchise until Oct 31, 2020.
The bill was rushed by the House of Representatives and passed through second reading last week like a walk in the park.
As the house hearings for the much-coveted bill is set to begin Tuesday next week, franchise expert Atty. Rolex Suplico sees a stormy ride for the embattled network during the committee hearings.
“TV stations po ‘yan po ay mass media. Pangalawa they have to prove that they have the financial capacity and number three they have to prove that they have the technical capacity,” Suplico said.
With those mentioned requirements, Suplico says that ABS- CBN will take a hard time defending on their legal capacity.
“Sa tatlong ito ang pinakamahirap dito ay ang requirement ng legal capacity kasi may alegasyon tayo eh na mayroong foreign control doon sa ABS-CBN. Ano ito? Ito ‘yung pag-isyu nila ng Philippine dipositary receipts at may allegations din tayo na ang pinuno nila ay dating Amerikano. So, dapat ito ay talakayin sa isang committee hearing diyan po sa Committee on Legislative Franchises sa Kamara,” said Suplico.
This coming Tuesday, May 26th at 1 pm, the House Committee on Legislative Franchises will tackle bills granting ABS-CBN a 25-year franchise.
According to the agenda of the House Committee on Legislative Franchises, the hearing will be held via videoconferencing.
House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said that the deliberations of the House Committee on Legislative Franchises will continue even during the Lower Chamber’s recess.
“They will not stop until they are finished so that no one can say we’re stopping the process or dragging our feet,” said Cayetano.
Cayetano says the committee would most likely hold two to three hearings a week while some witnesses and resource persons would be required to physically appear in the hearings, provided that social distancing and other health protocols are observed.
He also foresees an end to the ABS- CBN’s franchise issue before this year’s State of the Nation Address and will decide the fate after the annual event by August.
“I foresee that the hearings would not go beyond July, and by August, after President Duterte’s SONA (State of the Nation Address), we should be ready to decide,” Cayetano said.