No reason for ABS-CBN to stop airing
MANILA, Philippines — There is no reason for media giant ABS-CBN to stop its operations even as its franchise lapses today, May 4, the chairperson of the House committee on legislative franchises said Monday.
Palawan 1st District Rep. Franz Alvarez cited the power of the lower chamber to grant or revoke broadcast franchises in arguing that ABS-CBN can still operate while Congress tackles its bid for franchise renewal.
Alvarez said that his committee has already started its deliberations on ABS-CBN’s bid for franchise renewal by directing interested parties to submit their position papers in support or against the media giant’s application.
“Consistent with precedents, the Committee enjoined the National Telecommunications Commission to allow ABS-CBN to operate until such time that the House of Representatives makes a decision on its application,” Alvarez said in a statement.
“This will give Congress sufficient time to assess the qualifications of the applicant and make a complete review of the positions of the different stakeholders,” he added.
Alvarez and Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano earlier sent a letter to the NTC enjoining the commission to grant a provisional authority to operate to ABS-CBN effective on May 4, 2020, “until such time that the House of Representatives/Congress has made a decision on its application.”
On March 10, NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba told members of the House that they would follow the advice of the Department of Justice (DOJ), allowing ABS-CBN to operate while its franchise renewal bid is pending in Congress.
However, Solicitor General Jose Calida, who earlier filed a quo warranto petition against ABS-CBN in a move to have the network’s franchise revoked, warned the NTC against granting provisional authority to ABS-CBN.
According to Calida, NTC could not grant provisional authorities to ABS-CBN Corporation and its affiliate, ABS-CBN Convergence, Inc. because it must first secure a franchise from Congress.
Alvarez, for his part, said that “the power of Congress to legislate is complete, full, and plenary.”
“A legislative franchise is a law and by deciding whether to grant or deny a franchise, it is passing a law and making policy. It should be allowed the courtesy to complete the exercise of its power,” Alvarez said.
“With the legal opinion of the Department of Justice and the authority given by the House of Representatives, there is no reason for ABS-CBN to discontinue or stop their operations,” he added.
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