MANILA, Philippines— Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon has filed a resolution extending the franchise of ABS-CBN until December 31, 2022.
Drilon filed Senate Joint Resolution No. 11 on Monday amid “uncertainties on the fate of the network” as its 25-year franchise expires on March 30, 2020.
Congress will adjourn on March 14 or two weeks before the expiration of ABS-CBN’s franchise.
Until now, however, the House of Representatives has yet to hold a hearing on several measures seeking to renew the franchise of ABS-CBN for another 25 years before the Senate could act on it.
“Since there are only 12 session days left before the next adjournment of Congress on March 14, 2020, both the Senate and the House of Representatives need additional time to review, assess and determine whether or not ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation to determine compliance with the terms and conditions of its franchise,” Drilon’s resolution said.
“Now, therefore, be it resolved by the Senate and the House of Representatives in Congress assembled, to extend the franchise of ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation until 31 December 2020,” it added
If Congress would not act immediately on the resolution, Drilon said more than 11,000 families “will go home jobless and millions of viewers will be affected” after March 30, 2020.
Drilon’s filing of the resolution came just a day after Senator Grace Poe’s call for proof that the network could still continue to operate even after its expiration.
Some lawmakers claimed that ABS-CBN can still operate until 2022 or until the end of the 18th Congress since there are bills already pending for the franchise renewal or extension.
Other lawmakers though insist that there should be a legal basis to allow the network to continue after March 30, 2020.
“Kahit sabihin pa nila na pwede naman ‘yan i-extend hanggang 2022, maganda siguro kung in writing o kaya at least verbally sabihin ng Kongreso, ‘We commit to give ABS-CBN through the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) a temporary permit to operate’ kasi hindi naman ‘yan nakasulat sa batas,” Poe said in a statement Sunday.
(Even if we say that it can be extended until 2022, it would be better if it was put in writing or at least Congress says it verbally “We declare to give ABS-CBN through the National Telecommunications Commission a temporary permit to operate” because that is not written in the law.)