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Baka balikan! Lito Atienza: ‘Silent majority’ of lawmakers back ABS-CBN franchise renewal but fear Cayetano

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A “silent majority” of House members support ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal bid but are wary of speaking out because they fear House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza said Sunday.

Atienza said the “silent majority” in favor of giving ABS-CBN a fresh, 25-year franchise want the House of Representatives to hear the bills on franchise renewal as soon as possible so the chamber can deal with other pressing concerns.

“Many of those in the ‘hushed majority’ are unwilling to speak out because they fear reprisals from the House leadership,” the lawmaker said.

Atienza rejected as “nonsense” all suggestions for Congress to try to work out a temporary fix to ABS-CBN’s looming lack of a valid legislative franchise.

The pitches include the House and the Senate adopting some form of resolution that would supposedly pave the way for ABS-CBN to continue to operate in the interim, and/or for congressional leaders to endorse to the National Telecommunications Commission the grant of a provisional authority to the network.

“Why should we bother to look for a short-term remedy, when a permanent cure is already on the table? All that the House has to do now is put the bill renewing ABS-CBN’s franchise to a vote at the committee level, and then on the floor,” he said.

ABS-CBN’s franchise will expire on May 4, 2020 but Cayetano said no hearings will be held on its renewal application until May at the earliest.