Bzzzzz: What can cut temporary permit for ABS-CBN, which is not yet out of the woods

[1] PAINTING OF SPEAKER CAYETANO BEING PRAYED OVER BY LEGISLATORS. The mural depicts an actual scene at the House on July 22, 2019 when Alan Peter Cayetano won the heated fight for the speakership. The painting is the centerpiece in the office of the speaker at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City.

Not hung there is an undated photo of Cayetano on bended knee and kissing the hand of President Duterte. But the said photo was circulated in social media.

[2] BEING MISSED BY VISITORS AT TEMPLE OF LEAH, in Busay, Cebu City, which is temporarily closed because of a tax problem and family dispute: image of a man and his genitals, beside or in front of which, tourists take selfies.

‘Sense’ of Congress conveyed

The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) received from the Senate Wednesday, March 11, a resolution recommending the grant of provisional authority to operate until the end of the 18th Congress. NTC, through Deputy Commissioner Edgardo Cabarios, then announced it would “allow ABS-CBN to operate until the end of the 18th Congress,” after consultation with the Department of Justice.

Carlos didn’t mention the House but it is assumed that the letter of the House committee on franchises, earlier sent to NTC, took care of that.

The “sense” of Congress was duly conveyed and NTC, “upon consultation” with DOJ, would do as requested.

Speaker Allan Peter Cayetano explained that in a press-con on the same day: Since Congress has the basic power to grant or deny the franchise, necessarily it has the accessory and subsidiary power of giving a temporary permit.

That should put to rest for now the myriad questions in connection with the temporary permit. It is held unlikely that the solicitor general or anyone in government will question the arrangement pending action on the bills seeking renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise.

Sword still hangs

Pro-ABS-CBN people call the franchise renewal a sword over the network’s head. The sword is not yet removed even if the temporary permit is already issued by NTC.

There’s still the House committee that will hold hearings on the pending bills. The hearings can be held in two or three sessions or can go on and on until 2022. Remember how those bills have languished in two congresses already.

With the issue unresolved, the administration can lead ABS-CBN by the noose. Some critics suspect that the fate of the network is deliberately being played with until it will no longer “misbehave,” as it allegedly did in the 2016 elections. Media, Cayetano said, should not take sides in elections or in choosing a speaker.

The House might deny the franchise after the obligatory committee hearings and plenary vote. But prolonging ABS-CBN’s agony would seem to be more suitable for partisan ends than its outright execution.

Could be earlier than 2022

But Congress might decide before 2022 and thus grant the renewal or terminate the franchise earlier than the period stated in the temporary permit.

If the committee rejects it, it’s dead. If it approves the bill but the plenary votes it down, it’s dead. No bill has to be sent to the Senate.

If it’s approved in the House but the Senate votes the grant down, it’s dead. If the Senate okays it but the bill is vetoed by the president, it’s dead. That requires an override of the veto, which may not happen.

As one Congress watcher puts it, ABS-CBN is “being held and squeezed by the balls.”

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