By Charissa Luci-Atienza
The Makabayan bloc of solons in the House of Representatives is not in any way involved in the supposed attempt to unseat Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano over the ABS-CBN franchise renewal issue, Bayan Muna partylist Rep. Ferdinand Gaite made clear on Thursday.
He emphasized that their group is not seeking the ouster of Cayetano, but is only pressing on the House leadership to immediately tackle the 11 franchise renewal measures.
“Wala kaming kinalaman diyan. Ang gusto namin ay ang usapin ng ABS franchise ay matalakay, sobrang tagal na ang mga bills na ito,” Gaite told reporters in a press conference.
(We are not in any way involved. What we want is that the issue of ABS-CBN be tackled, these bills have long been overdue.)
“Hindi namin alam kung sinong grupo ‘yan, totoo man o hindi, na ginagamit na behikulo o sasakyan ang issue para gamitin laban sa leadership na ito.”
(We don’t know who these groups are, whether it is true or not, that are using this issue as a vehicle against this leadership.)
Gaite said there is still time for the House committee on legislative franchises, chaired by Palawan Rep. Franz Alvarez, to tackle the measures.
“We still have next week and the next to discuss these matters. There’s a way if they will it, but if they don’t like to tackle the issue, there will be millions of excuses. We ask the House leadership to immediately act on these measures,” he said.
For her part, Kabataan party-list Rep. Sarah Jane Elago challenged the House to prove its independence from the Executive by immediately tackling the measures seeking to renew the legislative franchise of ABS-CBN.
“Whether or not the President accepted the apology of ABS-CBN, this should not dictate on how Congress would act on the issue because Congress is independent from the Executive. There is clear separation of powers,” she said.
Cebu City Rep. Raul del Mar earlier belied claims that there is an attempt to unseat House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano amid the Lower Chamber’s supposedly snail-paced response to ABS-CBN’s proposed franchise renewal.
Del Mar is the principal author of a House joint resolution extending the franchise of ABS-CBN Corp. to the end of the 18th Congress on June 30, 2022.
Del Mar also noted that the term-sharing agreement between Cayetano and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco “is being respected.”
“There are no moves to hasten the assumption of Cong. Velasco,” Del Mar said. “I believe Cong Velasco is honoring the agreement and he will not ask his supporters. That’s not imaginable that he will work with his supporters to unseat him, knowing that will be coming already in due time.”
Under the term-sharing agreement, Cayetano will step down in October and Velasco will assume the House Speakership in November 2020.
President Duterte had endorsed Cayetano as Speaker for the first 15 months, while Velasco of the ruling PDP-Laban party would assume the fourth highest post in the land for the last 21 months of the 18th Congress.
Cayetano earlier said he is ready to step down should his colleagues withdraw their support for his leadership. He said his leadership style might not sit well with some House members, but “this is how I know to do my job.”
He explained that the Lower Chamber, through a vote of no confidence and election in the plenary session, can change the House leadership.