Pangilinan cites likely error on House’s okay of ABS-CBN’s interim franchise
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Francis Pangilinan on Thursday raised a possible constitutional violation in the House of Representatives’ “fast-tracked” approval of a bill granting a temporary franchise to ABS-CBN Corp.
“We witnessed last night how our co-equal chamber has fast-tracked the approval of the provisional franchise bill of ABS-CBN,” Pangilinan said in a statement.
“In a few hours after its filing, the Committee of the Whole approved [House Bill] 6732 on first and second reading, and is expected to vote on it on third reading early next week,” he added.
The senator said the immediate approval of the bill filed by Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and other House leaders just showed how measures “can easily hurdle if the leadership wills it.”
“We want ABS-CBN to be back on air as we know its operation is crucial in ensuring the free flow of life-saving information and in keeping the jobs of thousands of people,” Pangilinan said.
“However, we want our courses of action to be right – from the bill’s landing at the House plenary to its transmittal to the Senate for our own deliberation – so that we will have a provisional franchise that is legally and constitutionally firm and unassailable,” he pointed out.
Pangilinan cited Article VI Section 26. (2) of the Consitution which states that “(n)o bill passed by either House shall become a law unless it has passed three readings on separate days, and printed copies thereof in its final form have been distributed to its Members three days before its passage, except when the President certifies to the necessity of its immediate enactment to meet a public calamity or emergency.”
“It is within the power of the House to set this right, and soon.” the senator noted.
“While we look forward to the provisional franchise, we hope to tackle in the near future measures granting the network a renewed 25-year franchise to finally resurrect its operations,” he added.
The Senate is expected to start hearings on ABS-CBN’s provisional franchise Tuesday next week with the House poised to approve on third and final reading House Bill No. 6732.
Under the Constitution, franchise bills must emanate from the House before it can be tackled in Senate plenary.
Once approved by the Senate, both chambers have to ratify the reconciled bill before it can be transmitted to the President for his signature.
On May 5, ABS-CBN was forced to go off the air after the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) issued an order directing the network to stop the operations of its free television and radio broadcasting stations nationwide.
This developed even if NTC earlier assured legislators that it would grant provisional authority to ABS-CBN to allow the media network giant to operate beyond the expiration of its franchise on May 4 pending as Congress deliberates on its franchise renewal application.
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