Renewal of CBCP broadcast franchise not acted upon by House

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MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives has failed to renew the broadcast franchise of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) for its television and radio service, which expired last August 7.

House Bill No. 4820 seeking the extension of the franchise for another 25 years was filed January this year, but it remained mired at the committee level.

“It has been referred to the committee on legislative franchises, and it is awaiting hearing,” Albay Representative Joey Salceda, the bill’s author, said.

The measure asks Congress to extend the CBCP franchise that will allow it to “construct, install, establish, operate and maintain radio and/or television broadcasting stations in the Philippines.”

A 25-year term was earlier granted to CBCP under Republic Act No. 7530.

“The extension of the CBCP’s legislative franchise holds great significance for the CBCP as the official organization of the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in the Philippines,” the bill said.

It added, “CBCP is responsible for carrying in the propagation of various apostolate, charity works, value formation and good governance and the promotion of good news of God through catholic doctrines, good values and good virtues for the benefit and goodness of the Philippines as a nation,” it added.

Since the establishment of its broadcast institutions through its members Corporation Soles in different regions in the country, the CBCP has upheld its responsibility to the public at large through its clear delivery of news, typhoon warnings and disaster relief using the dialect of its respective coverage regions, according to the bill.

The CBCP, using radio and television, was able to bring to the people major events such as the pontifical visits of Pope Paul VI in 1970; Pope John Paul in 1981 and 1995; and Pope Francis in 2015, as well as the EDSA People Power 1 in 1986 and the EDSA Dos in 2000.

The bill noted that communications and media play a vital role in the development of the country.

“It is imperative that the government continue to play an active role in sustaining and encouraging the development of broadcast media,” it said,

Despite the non-renewal of its franchise, CBCP continues its online radio, which features mostly mellow music. (http://cbcponlineradio.com/) It also has Word of Life featuring the daily gospels.

The Church and the Duterte administration have been at odds over the rising number of deaths in the President’s war on drugs. The Church has also staunchly opposed the restoration of the death penalty, which the House approved on third and final reading. The Senate, however, has yet to act on the bill.

Last week, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez also slammed the bishops for not addressing the issue of sexual abuse by priests.

“Mga minor pinapatulan, ang dami nila … mga pedophiles, ayusin muna nila iyong hanay nila bago sila putak nang putak laban sa gobyerno (They prey on minors, so many of them … are pedophiles, let them clean up their ranks before criticizing government),” he had said.

He added that instead of homilies against the war on drugs, “bakit hindi sermunan iyong mga pari na ang daming ginagawang kabulastugan (why not direct the sermons on sinful priests)?”