The House of Representatives on Monday withdrew the approval of a bill granting a five-month franchise to the shuttered ABS-CBN media network following questions over its legality.

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said the constitution required that bills be approved on three readings held on three separate days.

This was also the position of opposition senator Francis Pangilinan. Former Senate president Juan Ponce Enrile also said the temporary franchise was invalid.

READ: Enrile: Congress can’t grant temporary franchise; ABS-CBN shutdown not a press freedom issue

House Bill 6732, authored by Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, was approved last week by a committee of the whole and on second reading just an hour and a half apart.

Deputy Speaker LRay Villafuerte of Camarines Sur claimed the withdrawal of the second reading approval was motivated by a desire for a “comprehensive, impartial, extensive” discussion and not because of the need to cure a constitutional defect.

After the withdrawal, discussions centered on why the franchise would last only five months and why a provision allotting 10 percent of paid airtime to “public service time” was inserted in the bill.

“Open naman tayo [na] pakinggan na lang natin ang franchise application in order to decide whether to give them a 25-year franchise,” Villafuerte said.

“Let’s do it right, whether it’s five months or 10 years or 25 years,” he added.

Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez questioned the 10-percent provision, pointing out that this was absent in six broadcast franchises he had examined, and could become an equal-protection issue.

The House will continue discussions on the bill on Tuesday.

Villafuerte reiterated the House leadership’s stance that the ABS-CBN franchise was taking up much of the time for other pressing matters.

Critics have accused the House leadership of delaying the franchise, which led to the shutdown of ABS-CBN on May 5 or a day after its license expired.

The closure of the country’s largest media network, which had incurred the ire of President Rodrigo Duterte, was met with condemnation from media freedom advocates who emphasized that the shutdown was a press freedom issue and not a legal issue as claimed by the Duterte government.

READ: Under pressure from SolGen Calida, NTC orders ABS-CBN to shut down

“Ang nakakalungkot lang, 90 percent of our members are focused on ABS while I feel there are more important and urgent issues we have to discuss,” Villafuerte said. (