Bill on non-expiration of franchises pending Congress renewal up for plenary OK
MANILA, Philippines — A measure seeking the non-expiration of franchises with pending renewal in Congress has reached the Senate floor.
Senator Francis Pangilinan on Wednesday endorsed for plenary approval Senate Bill No. 1530, which seeks to amend Section 18, Book VII, Chapter 3 of the Administrative Code of the Philippines providing for the non-expiration of a license, where the licensee has filed a timely and sufficient application for renewal until a final determination on the application has been made.
The proposed amendment expands the provision to also include franchises granted by Congress.
The measure is contained under Committee Report No. 100.
“By its very definition, legislative franchises are imbued with public service, with Congress bearing responsibility for granting and extending such franchises. Today, we seek to rectify a small omission that has been corrected in practice but not in law,” Pangilinan said in his sponsorship speech.
Pangilinan is the chairman of the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Codes.
According to Pangilinan, the measure would make it “incumbent upon the issuing authority to act on an application and avoid situations where silence or inaction could effectively bar the operations of an enterprise.”
He noted that during the committee’s hearing on measure last week, all of its resource persons, who included legal luminaries and state regulators, agreed that the bill would “bridge the gap between law and practice and law.”
“We are also enlightened on how this measure will help in the pursuit of the rule of law and democratic accountability,” he added.
The proposed measure comes after media network ABS-CBN was forced to shut its television and radio broadcast operations nationwide to comply with a cease-and-desist order issued by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) a day after the network’s franchise expired on May 4.
“Today, we seek to correct this error not only to uphold the right to free speech and expression, but equally important, the right of the people to correct, relevant, timely, and accurate information,” Pangilinan said.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, the proponent of the bill, reiterated that his proposed amendment “would fill the gap in cases where a franchise has expired while its renewal remains pending.”
“Journals of the Senate would show that Congress has applied considerations of equity in previous similar situations and this measure seeks to institutionalize that practice,” Drilon said in his co-sponsorship speech.
“This is consistent with the Equal Protection Clause which mandates public bodies and institutions to treat similarly situated individuals in a similar manner. The proposed amendments would clarify that franchisees shall not be barred from operating while Congress hears the application for their renewal,” he added.
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