Del Mar denies Frasco claim: No Visayan bloc meeting

Jove Moya

CEBU City Representative Raul del Mar on Tuesday, March 3, denied claims that the Visayan bloc had met and agreed to provide "solid support" to House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano.

Del Mar gave a privilege speech Tuesday in reaction to the claim of Cebu 5th District Rep. Vincent Franco "Duke" Frasco that 48 legislators in the Visayas support Cayetano, who is being threatened by reports of an ouster plot against him.

“Reports in the media and in other forums, attributed to a fellow congressman from Cebu, are therefore not true and have no basis in fact. Not a shred of truth in it,” Del Mar said.

Read: Visayas lawmakers back Cayetano as House Speaker

In his speech, Del Mar said members of the Visayan bloc did not meet. Neither did the group try to come up with a stand on the ABS-CBN franchise renewal issue.

“For myself, I know I did not express support to the purported view of the Visayas bloc,” said Del Mar.

“To say and circulate that the Visayas bloc met is a falsehood and a misrepresentation that wound the core of the reason for its being as an alliance of legislators from the Visayas regions,” he added.

The lawmaker, who earlier filed a resolution seeking to extend the ABS-CBN franchise pending its renewal, reiterated his personal stand.

“The broadcast network should be given its day in Congress and its day in court. Due process and fair hearing are major components under a rule of law,” Del Mar said.

Del Mar filed on February 18, 2020 House Joint Resolution No. 28, which seeks to extend the validity of ABS-CBN's franchise until the end of the 18th Congress on June 30, 2022.

“It has become increasingly clear that there is no more time either for consideration of the main franchise or the resolution on its provisional operation. The windows and gates to any of that are inexorably closing,” he said.

“My colleagues and I may just have to pin our hopes that the Honorable Speaker (Cayetano) will be faithful to the vow and promise he has repeatedly made on various public forums,” he added.

Cayetano earlier insisted that the House will tackle 12 pending bills seeking to renew the ABS-CBN franchise either in May, when Congress resumes session after the summer break, or in August, after President Rodrigo Duterte's State of the Nation Address.

Cayetano said there is no urgency in renewing the television network's franchise and assured that ABS-CBN would continue to operate while Congress deliberates on the pending bills.

He also noted that Congress has more urgent bills to deal with.

Reports that Cayetano would be ousted and replaced by Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco ahead of the scheduled turnover of House leadership circulated last week.

Velasco has denied having a hand in the alleged ouster plot. The term-sharing agreement, forged in the presence of President Rodrigo Duterte, allows Cayetano to serve as Speaker until October 2020.

Velasco will take over and serve until the end of the 18th Congress in 2022. (SunStar Philippines)