Senator Grace Poe called for the speedy passage of the franchise bill of media giant ABS-CBN in Congress after House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano washed his hands of the controversy and pinned the blame on the National Telecommunications Commission and the Office of the Solicitor General regarding the network’s sudden broadcast shut down.

“The Filipino people want to see the network back on air. To see is to believe,” said Poe who chairs the Senate committee on public services, in a statement.

“As Senate President Sotto vowed, the Senate will not waste a moment once the bill reaches the Chamber, as this matter is imbued with public interest,” she added.

Poe’s statement was released after Cayetano slammed the NTC for “flip-flopping” its earlier commitment to grant ABS-CBN a provisional authority to operate before the franchise lapsed on May 4.  But instead, the commission surprised virtually everybody   when it handed down its cease and desist order against the network.

“Last Tuesday we were all ambushed by the NTC. Despite their assurance given under oath, the legal opinion of the Department of Justice, a resolution from the Senate, and several verbal and written assurances given to Congress…the NTC appears to have succumbed to pressure from the Solicitor General, and issued a cease and desist order to ABS-CBN,” Cayetano stated.

“To our critics, in and outside of the House, you are free to say what you will. As we are free to respond in our own way. As for the sudden flip-flopping of the NTC and the unconstitutional meddling by the Solicitor General in the business of Congress, I promise you—there will be a reckoning,” he ended. 

After passing the blame to the NTC and Calida, Cayetano, however, has not given the public any schedule for the committee hearings of at least 11 pending bills granting the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise for another 25 years.

Meanwhile, Senate President Vicente Sotto III is confident that the Senate will quickly award ABS-CBN a franchise to operate but added that they cannot comment further on the issue until the bills are transferred to the Senate by the House of Representatives.

He also reiterated that the bills had been pending at the Lower House since the 16th Congress. 

Both the Senate and the House of Representatives willCongress is about to go on recess on June 3, so the bill must be passed before June.

Meanwhile, ABS-CBN resumed its news programming on May 7 through its digital platforms: Facebook, YouTube, its website, through its cable news channel, ANC, its global subscription television network, The Filipino Channel, and its video streaming service iWant.  (RJ Espartinez)