House committee to decide on ABS-CBN's fate this week

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 5) — After a month of deliberations, members of the House of Representatives will see the end of the discussions on ABS-CBN's franchise next week.

According to House Committee on Legislative Franchises Chairman Franz Alvarez, they could also vote on whether the media giant would be granted a franchise this week as they only have one more issue to discuss before handing down the decision.

One of those opposed to granting a franchise is Cavite Representative Jesus Crispin Remulla who said the network has not been paying taxes and has been illegally airing programs on Channel 43.

Meanwhile, Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate is pushing for ABS-CBN to be given a franchise, saying many are counting on it especially with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Public opinion on the matter has also been divided, with people voicing opinions — whether for or against — online.

The hearings began on May 26, with House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano saying the House Committee on Legislative Franchises would tackle “no more than 10 issues” in relation to ABS-CBN’s franchise bid, including the network’s supposed tax violations as well as ownership and foreign citizenship issues, among others. The media company has debunked these allegations. 

READ: Gabby Lopez is a Filipino – DOJ

Prior to the start of the hearings, the National Telecommunications Commission issued a cease and desist order on May 5, a day after the network giant's franchise lapsed. 

Calls for the resumption of hearings on ABS-CBN's franchise surfaced following the National Telecommunications Commission's controversial cease and desist order which led to ABS-CBN's shutdown on May 5.

Numerous bills granting a fresh license for the company to air on radio and free TV have been filed before the lower chamber since November 2016, but Cayetano earlier this year said lawmakers were “too busy” with more urgent measures.

READ: Dismissal of quo warranto plea to impact ABS-CBN franchise hearings, solon says 

CNN Philippines' Xianne Arcangel contributed to this report.