Drilon opposes retired justices’ stand: ABS-CBN franchise can’t be decided in a vacuum
MANILA, Philippines — Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Friday refuted the opinion of retired justices on ABS-CBN’s franchise, saying it cannot be decided “in a vaccum” since the livelihood of 11,000 employees are at risk.
“Why, all of a sudden, should we be so strict with ABS-CBN, when 11,000 jobs are on the line?” Drilon, former justice secretary, said in a statement.
“This issue on ABS-CBN cannot be decided in a vacuum as the retired justices want Congress to do. Our conscience will not allow us to do that, because the reality is, 11,000 jobs are on the line here,” Drilon said.
Citing a 2003 Supreme Court decision, former Chief Justice Reynato Puno earlier said that a franchise is needed before the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) can grant a provisional permit for ABS-CBN to operate.
Hence, the network cannot continue its operations beyond the expiration of its franchise on May 4.
Retired Supreme Court Justice Angelina Sandoval-Gutierrez, meanwhile, was quoted in another report as saying that a law granting a new franchise is needed and that a joint resolution by Congress cannot extend the already expired franchise.
Drilon earlier filed a concurrent resolution seeking to authorize the NTC to grant ABS-CBN a provisional permit to operate as Congress deliberates on the renewal of its franchise.
“By their interpretation, we put at risk the livelihood of 11,000 employees and the future of their families, without giving an opportunity for a rational discussion,” Drilon pointed out.
“Laws and rules should be interpreted and applied not in a vacuum or in isolated abstraction but in light of surrounding circumstances and attendant facts in order to afford justice to all,” he noted.
Drilon added that there is no harm done should ABS-CBN be allowed to continue its broadcast while Congress looks into its franchise renewal.
“Why can we not give Congress more time to decide on this? Is anybody’s interest harmed by the continuation of the operation of ABS-CBN while the matter is pending in Congress?” he said.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra has already said that NTC can allow the network’s broadcast as Congress tackles its franchise, Drilon noted.
“The secretary of justice has ruled that there are sufficient equitable grounds to let ABS-CBN continue broadcasting pending the process of renewal in Congress. There is no harm in letting the NTC continue its practice of granting a provisional authority as it has done in the past,” he said.
In a letter to NTC, Guevarra said it can give ABS-CBN provisional permit to operate while waiting for Congress to renew its franchise.
ABS-CBN’s franchise is currently being tackled by the Senate, but the House of Representatives has yet to hold a hearing on 11 pending bills seeking the renewal of media giant’s franchise.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.