Rodriguez: 50-year cap applies to every franchise issued, not cumulative
MANILA, Philippines — Deputy Speaker Rodante Marcoleta was mistaken with his interpretation of the 50-year cap on franchises granted by Congress, Cagayan de Oro 2nd District Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said Thursday.
According to Rodriguez, the cap applies to every franchise granted, and broadcast networks are allowed to apply for renewal afterwards.
“The Constitution is very clear. The Constitution says that every franchise that will be issued shall not be more than 50 years. Every, every instance, every franchise ‘yan—it’s not cumulative,” Rodriguez told INQUIRER.net in a phone interview.
“It is really every time you give a franchise, you cannot do more than 50 years. Our practice is only 25 years. You can give 50 years, 40 years, 25 years, one year… You can again issue another one basta every time you issue [a franchise], there’s a maximum of 50 years,” he added.
To recall, in arguing against the grant of a new franchise to ABS-CBN, Marcoleta said that ABS-CBN’s should not be granted a new franchise since the network has been “using the airwaves for more than 50 years.”
Marcoleta was referring to Section 11 of Article XII of the 1987 Constitution, which states that: “No franchise, certificate, or any other form of authorization for the operation of a public utility shall be granted… for a longer period than fifty years.”
But Rodriguez said that Marcoleta was “wrong” with his interpretation of the law.
“It is not correct. Marcoleta’s construction is wrong because if you will read the Constitution, every franchise issued will not be more than 50 years,” Rodriguez said.
“It does not matter how many times you give a franchise as long as it does not exceed 50 years at a time,” he added.
Another issue that Marcoleta raised was the citizenship ABS-CBN’s former president Gabby Lopez III, who the lawmaker claimed was an American citizen when he took the helm in 1986.
But Rodriguez argued that Lopez is a dual citizen of the Philippines and The United States.
Rodriguez explained that since Lopez was born in the United States in 1952, he is an American citizen by virtue of jus soli citizenship—or by virtue of birth on the soil—which is used there.
Further, Rodriguez said that Lopez was born by Filipino parents which makes him a Filipino under the jus sanguinis citizenship—or by virtue of blood—under the 1935 Constitution–which was the Philippine law in place during Lopez’ birth.
“The fact is that, when he was born, both his parents are Filipinos. So if take the father’s citizenship, automatically Gabby Lopez is Filipino by birth,” Rodriguez said.
“Since he is Filipino by birth, he is going to exercise all the powers. Therefore, when he became the owner then and now of the ABS-CBN shares, it follows the Constitutional mandate that [ownership] should be 100 percent Filipino because he has been a Filipino from the very beginning,” he added.