Joint reso of Congress can extend ABS-CBN operation, says solon
MANILA, Philippines – A joint resolution of Congress — that is, the House of Representatives and the Senate — can provide network company ABS-CBN a one-year temporary franchise, a lawmaker said.
Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez on Tuesday said Congress has the sole authority to extend, revoke, or modify broadcast franchises, contrary to beliefs and jurisprudence stating that joint resolutions cannot modify existing laws, in this case, a franchise.
Rodriguez, however, clarified that the joint resolution is not an amendment of Republic Act No. 7966, which allowed ABS-CBN to operate for 25 years since March 30, 1995.
“Congress has the exclusive power to grant the franchise, alter franchises, to modify franchises and to repeal a franchise. And that is why I believe that here in this point, it is specified in Congress under Article 11 of the Constitution, the Congress has the absolute power to grant franchises, with the condition that it is subject to alteration, modification, or repeal,” Rodriguez said in a briefing.
“What we’re doing here is an extension for one year, and so I believe this will be different from the rest. In many cases mostly, (joint) resolutions have been signed by the President,” he said.
Previously, Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said that a notice from the House committee on legislative franchises to the National Telecommunications Commission would be enough for ABS-CBN to continue operating, despite its franchise’s expiration on May 4.
However, former chief justice Reynato Puno insisted that the network cannot broadcast its program once the franchise expires.
Rodriguez said that he will file a joint resolution for a year’s extension of franchise of ABS-CBN on Tuesday afternoon. On Monday, Cebu Rep. Raul Del Mar has filed Joint Resolution No. 28, which also gives an extension of the ABS-CBN franchise albeit until the end of the 18th Congress in June 2022.
According to Rodriguez, he opted for a year’s extension, on the belief that it is already enough for House to discuss the issue. When asked why the House would not opt to discuss the franchise as a whole and not give a temporary solution, Rodriguez said that there may be time constraints as there are only six session days left before the Lenten Season break.
“Two years is too long, so let us have this, the maximum we have is one year, so we will also have a self-urgency. So I filed that, because I see that there is no chance at this point for a hearing and approval in the committee,” he explained.
“There’s no action, there’s no notice, so I filed a bill in October… nothing has happened, and so the other week I was among the 91 who signed a petition of Congressman (Edcel) Lagman to already discharge the committee and bring it up into the plenary,” he added.
ABS-CBN’s fate is currently in limbo after President Rodrigo Duterte previously said that he would not sign any law that would grant the network another franchise, even advising owners to just sell the company.
Then just this February 10, Solicitor General Jose Calida filed a quo warranto petition against the media outfit for allegedly hiding foreign ownership behind corporate veils.
Edited by EDV
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