MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Justice is set to issue next week a legal opinion on the request of the National Telecommunications Commission on whether ABS-CBN can operate after its franchise expires on March 30 or while waiting for Congress to act on pending proposals to renew it.
This was confirmed by Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra who told reporters he indeed received a request for legal opinion “on whether or not ABS-CBN may continue operating after the lapse of the franchise period, pending action by the Congress on the franchise renewal bills.”
The request was accordingly received by the DOJ Tuesday afternoon and the agency intends to issue a rejoinder next week Guevarra said.
Earlier, Sen. Grace Poe said the NTC has the power to “issue a provisional franchise, citing instances of telecommunication companies Smart and Globe.”
“If I’m not mistaken, all of them, their franchises had lapsed while bills had been filed and pending before Congress, that’s why the NTC extended them, or NTC was silent about it,” Poe said.
At least 11 franchise renewal bills have been filed by the broadcast giant ABS-CBN.
These, however, remains pending at the House of Representatives.
Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano suggested for Congress to tackle the said pending bills after Holy Week or in the month of May 2020.
For his part, Senator Bong Go urged Congress to act immediately act on the pending bills “to settle the issue once and for all.”
The Senate, meanwhile, is set to hold its first public hearing on ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal on Monday, February 24, of which the Speaker cautioned the Upper House it be committing grave violation of legislative processes.
The lady Senator, who chairs the Senate Committee on Public Services, said the inquiry will also tackle the supposed franchise violations of the network, which is the main complaint of Solicitor General Jose Calida’s quo warranto petition asking the Supreme Court to immediately cancel ABS-CBN’s franchise. (iamigo/sovereignph.com)