Enrile asks, what’s the urgency in granting ABS-CBN franchise?
MANILA, Philippines — Former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile on Tuesday questioned the need for Congress to act with urgency on the passage of the legislative franchise of ABS-CBN, even as he reiterated his warning against the grant of a provisional authority.
Enrile was among the resource persons at the Senate committee on public services’s deliberations on the franchise bill of the broadcast giant, whose franchise expired last May 4.
“Alam mo, Mr. Committee Chairman, hindi ko maintindihan, ano ba ang urgency nung prangkisa na ibibigay sa ABS-CBN? Tapos na yung termino nila, negosyo dapat ihinto,” he said during the hearing presided by Senator Sherwin Gatchalian.
(You know, Mr. Committee Chairman, I don’t understand, what is the urgency in granting the franchise to ABS-CBN? Their term has expired, their business must stop.)
“Ngayon, ang urgency ba nyan ay dahil kailangan malaman ng ating mga kababayan ang nangyayari sa ating bansa? My God, the nooks and corners of this republic is rich. Not by television but by radio. Our people know whats going on all over the country because of radio,” he said.
Enrile pointed out that the question of communication and information is not an issue but compliance with the law.
“The issue here is we must comply with the Constitution. We must comply with the laws. We must follow the rule of law in the country so that huwag naman parang nilalaro yung Saligang Batas natin,” he claimed.
The panel opened its deliberations on the issue even as the House of Representatives has yet to approve and transmit to the Senate its proposal on ABS-CBN’s franchise.
But Enrile warned Congress that it could not grant a provisional permit to ABS-CBN, as proposed in the lower chamber, that’s good for five months, or until October 2020, only.
“In the case of ABS-CBN, the law says, your privilege to engage in the business of mass media broadcasting will end on May 4, 2020. Period,” he said.
“It can’t go beyond that and everything must stop. Congress must exercise the power of legislation either to terminate it, really as it has been terminated by law itself or extend it… No other power in our government has the right to extend it a minute or a second. The law must be obeyed, the Constitution must be observed against anybody in this country,” he added.
The former legislator also voiced doubts on Congress’ grant of provisional authority to ABS-CBN, as the Constitution provides for a 50-year limitation only on the period of franchises.
“There must be a certain degree of permanence in the grant of any legislative action. It can’t be ad hoc. We are not a delegated power like NTC (National Telecommunications Commission) that you can exercise quasi-judicial power or quasi-legislative power… If Congress can grant a temporary franchise, what is the compelling reason for it not to grant a permanent franchise with a reasonable period of 25 years?” he opined.
“If you think there is a national emergency, why don’t you ask President Duterte to certify the bill so that you can shorten the period of deliberation?” Enrile said.
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
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.