Lawmaker suggests resolution to allow ABS-CBN to keep status quo

The plenary hall of the House of Representatives. (Photo from the Philippine Daily Inquirer)

MANILA, Philippines — A joint resolution may be drafted in Congress for the National Telecommunications (NTC) to allow it to “formally recognize” precedent situations to maintain the status quo while bills on ABS-CBN’s franchise remain pending before the House of Representatives.

Rep. Alfredo Garbin Jr. of the Ako Bicol party-list made that suggestion in a statement issued on Sunday.

Garbin said that the Joint Concurrent Resolution (JCR) would give “clarity and substance to the emerging consensus that ABS-CBN can continue to operate while the franchise bills are pending in the 18th Congress based on precedents.”

“This JCR is well within the power of Congress to grant,” he added.

Previously, Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III said that the broadcast giant may continue to operate until March 2022 as long as there are pending bills extending or renewing its franchise.

READ: Can ABS-CBN still operate pending approval of franchise?

House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, meanwhile, said that ABS-CBN might still be able to operate if the NTC would grant it a provisional authority to do so even after the expiration of its franchise on March 30.

READ: Cayetano: ABS-CBN may keep operating if NTC allows it

Garbin added that it would also assure the network’s 11,000 workers that they would still have jobs “up until both Houses of Congress have decided on the matter with finality.”

“The JCR would also be the assurance of Congress to the Filipino people that there will be no vacuum in freedom of expression, creativity, and press freedom because of the expiration of the ABS-CBN franchises,” the lawmaker said.