ABS-CBN can still operate even after franchise lapses – solon
MANILA, Philippines — Media network giant ABS-CBN can still continue its operations even if its legislative franchise expires on March 30.
Isabela Rep. Antonio “Tonypet” Albano said this Tuesday as the public awaits action from the House of Representatives, where a number of bills were filed for the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise.
“May I remind the public that even if the ABS-CBN’s franchise expires on the said date on March, it does not mean that ABS-CBN will close completely because the rule of thumb, and I believe this in the committee – and we were briefed on this – is that while this 18th Congress is still ongoing, hindi po titigil ang services ng ABS-CBN hanggang po matapos ang 18th Congress (the services of ABS-CBN will not stop until the 18th Congress ends),” Albano, who serves as vice-chairperson of the House committee on legislative franchises, told reporters.
Albano explained that the broadcasting company can still operate because they were able to submit their application before their franchise expires.
In an interview with radio station DZMM, Atty. Rudolph Jularbal, legal counsel and spokesperson of Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP), also said that as long as a franchise holder was able to apply for renewal before the expiration of the franchise, “the permit or franchise is deemed extended until it is expressly denied or granted.”
“Also in Congress, we have had cases of members filing for renewal before their expiration tapos (then) technically the date of their franchise has already expired pero (but) since [the application for renewal is] pending, tuloy pa rin ang operation (the operation would just continue),” Jularbal said.
For Quezon City Rep. Jericho Nograles, ABS-CBN may continue doing business granted that they secure provisional authority from the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC).
“It doesn’t mean na automatic na mag off the air (It does not mean that automatic they will go off the air), but it will be off the air if the NTC will not give them provisional authority pending the hearings of Congress, or the dissipation of Congress when it comes to congressional franchise,” Nograles pointed out.
Albano then assured the public that the committee would hear the bills on the renewal of ABS-CBN’s legislative franchise even disclosing that the matter has been among those tackled during their closed-door meetings.
“We assure the public later on that we will hear the case because our chairman and the leadership of the House, in particular, have been closely monitoring the events but we also have a lot of other issues to tackle before we can tackle the ABS-CBN franchise,” Albano said.
The lawmaker said they are holding closed-door meetings on the matter so they won’t be “pressured by any sides” regarding the issue.
“Remember that it is stated in the Constitution that Congress is the sole prerogative entity that is tackling all the franchises here in the Philippines so this is one of the reasons why we wanted closed-door sessions is that we didn’t want any pressure from anyone in particular so that our decisions will not be biased in the end when we start hearing the cases,” Albano said.
Republic Act No. 3846 requires television and radio broadcasting companies to secure a franchise from the government before they are allowed to operate. It is Congress that will decide whether to extend the franchise to public utilities, such as the media.
At the House of Representatives, ABS-CBN’s application for franchise renewal has yet to be tackled despite repeated calls from a number of its members for the issue to be addressed, especially with the franchise’s fast-approaching expiration date.
Currently, there are 11 pending bills in Congress seeking the renewal of the media giant’s franchise. But as of Tuesday, February 11, 2020, the matter on ABS-CBN’s legislative franchise renewal is still not included in the hearing agenda.
Against this backdrop is the quo warranto petition filed Monday by the Office of the Solicitor General before the Supreme Court. The government’s chief lawyer wants ABS-CBN’s franchise revoked for allegedly violating provisions of its license.
According to House Deputy Speaker Johnny Pimentel, OSG’s move could lead to some lawmakers being afraid to speak up and express their support towards the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise.
Edited by KGA
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