ABS-CBN’s operations to remain unhampered until the matter of the franchise renewal is resolved – Congress

The House Committee on Legislative Franchises approved the motion to allow ABS-CBN to continue its operation beyond May 4 via provisional authority from the National Telecommunications Commission. 

The House Committee on Legislative Franchises conducted a hearing on Tuesday, May 10, discussing the matters on the franchise renewal of the media giant, ABS-CBN, few days before Congress adjourns March 14. 

Rep. Josephine Sato (Occidental Mindoro) moved that the letter of the Chairman as concurred by the Speaker be adopted as the official position of the House of Representatives. As the motion suggests, the House should “allow the ABS-CBN Corporation and its affiliate cooperations ABS-CBN Convergence, Skycable Corporation, and AMCARA Broadcasting Corporation to continue its operations unhampered beyond May 4, 2020, and/or until the final resolution by the House of Representatives of the bill for the renewal of its franchise”, Rep. Sato said. 

Rep. Sato based the motion on the basis of jurisprudence and as a ground of equity concerning the interest of the viewing public and the employees of ABS-CBN Corporation. 

Rep. Juan Miguel Arroyo (Pampanga) recognized the conflicting views from the committee and proposed for the approval of the motion to maintain impartiality and let the Court decide whether the extension is constitutional or not, which was seconded by the committee members. 

The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) adopted the same principles based on jurisprudence and the doctrine of equity, and as guided by the opinion of the Secretary of Justice, Menardo Guevarra, the resolution from the House of Representatives would be enough basis for the granting of the provisional authority. 

However, while Rep. Edcel Lagman (Albay) said that the provisional authority stands on “unstable and untenable ground”, the sense of both chambers of the Congress are considered legitimate and strong enough for the provisional authority to be executory when the ABS-CBN franchise expires on May 4 of this year.  

After the committee hearing, House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano held a press briefing and discussed several key points regarding the ABS-CBN franchise renewal. He applauds the effort of the Congress and praised their decision to move the matter later, after the break of the Congress, to have a more transparent and objective hearing. He reiterated that ABS-CBN is innocent until proven guilty, and at its current status, there were no posted violations that can be attributed to the media giant. 

As Cayetano argued, “there is no reason in this world why the NTC or any other agency of government should shut them down or prohibit them from broadcasting while their franchise is pending before the committee”. 

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