Resolution allowing ABS operation pending franchise renewal filed

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Wednesday filed a concurrent resolution that would allow ABSCBN Corporation to continue to operate pending the renewal of its franchise.

Drilon filed Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 6 to express the sense of Congress that ABSCBN should be allowed to operate under the terms of its existing franchise pending final determination of the renewal of its franchise by the 18th Congress.

The resolution also urged the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to issue the appropriate provisional authority to the broadcast network.

In filing SCR 6, Drilon noted that Congress has only eight session days remaining before the franchise of ABSCBN expires.

Congress will go on a break from March 14 to May 3, whereas the existing franchise of the network expires on May 4.

Both the Senate and the House of Representatives need additional time to review and determine whether or not ABSCBN shall be granted the renewal of its franchise, Drilon said.

The resolution also pointed out that the Department of Justice (DOJ) has earlier submitted that: "The grant of a franchise is an exercise of sovereign power and under our Constitution that power is vested in the Congress. By necessary implication, such power of Congress also includes the power to prescribe the rights of the franchiseeapplicant pending final determination of the renewal of its franchise by the Congress.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra made this position during Mondays' hearing of the Senate Committee on Public Services on the alleged franchise violations of the broadcast firm.

It is therefore respectfully submitted that the Congress, by concurrent resolution, may authorize the NTC to issue a provisional authority subject to such terms and conditions as the NTC may deem fit to ABSCBN and other entities who are similarly situated, authorizing them to continue operating subject to the Congress' eventual disposition of their renewal applications, Guevarra said.

Meanwhile, Senator Ramon Bong Revilla Jr. filed a bill seeking to extend ABSCBN's franchise until Dec. 31, 2020.

Revilla said he filed Senate Bill No. 1374 to give both Houses of Congress time to act on the various pending bills on the franchise renewal of the network, and at the same time address all possible legal consequences that may arise if the existing franchise of the broadcast giant lapses, if it is not amended.

He cited the opinion of former Chief Justice Reynato Puno who said ABSCBN would have no more basis to operate once its franchise expires.

Revilla said if the Senate and the House passed SB 1374, there will be no legal question that will arise while Congress decides whether or not to renew the network's franchise.

Kaya tayo nagfile ng (That's why we filed a) bill extending the franchise to the end of the year to give time for Congress to finish our job na hindi nanganganib ang trabaho ng mahigit sa 11,000 na manggagawa (without endangering the jobs of more than 11,000 employees), he said.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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