Calls to grant ABS-CBN a new franchise will have to wait until the next Congress that will be elected in 2022, Speaker Lord Allan Velasco said Thursday just days after President Rodrigo Duterte said he would block the shuttered network's operations.
The House of Representatives is focused on passing bills to help the country recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, Velasco said, noting that lawmakers only have a little over the year before the 2022 elections.
"...the House of Representatives is bent on finishing the remaining priority measures of this Administration to ensure that President Rodrigo Roa Duterte fulfills his campaign promise to the Filipino people," Velasco said in a statement.
"On top of these priority legislation, we would like to see the passage of Bayanihan 3, as well as other economic bills geared toward rebuilding the Philippine economy shattered by the devastating impact of the global pandemic and rebuilding the lives of every Filipino disrupted by the health crisis," he added.
President Duterte, in a Feb. 8 public address, said he would not allow the National Telecommunications Commission to issue a permit to operate to ABS-CBN even if Congress grants it a fresh broadcast license.
Duterte said the network's owners -- the Lopezes -- should pay their alleged tax liabilities first. The Bureau of Internal Revenue had earlier cleared ABS-CBN of any tax liabilities. ABS-CBN has repeatedly said that it has no outstanding tax deficiencies, a statemebnt supported by the Bureau of Internal Revenues.
The Kapamilya network lost its franchise bid in July of last year just a few months after it went off the air on May 5.