MANILA – Lawmakers are the “only ones” who can decide on the bid of local media giant ABS-CBN to extend its legislative franchise for another 25 years, Malacañang said on Tuesday.
In a virtual press briefing aired on state-run PTV-4, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Palace would let Congress decide on the fate of ABS-CBN’s franchise, which expired on Monday.
“We leave that matter to Congress because they are the only ones who can decide whether or not ABS-CBN should be given a renewal of its franchise,” Roque said.
ABS-CBN’s 25-year congressional franchise was granted on March 30, 1995 but only took effect in April 1995. Thus, ABS-CBN’s franchise expired on May 4 instead of March 30.
The Office of the Solicitor General and the Department of Justice (DOJ), the two top legal offices of the executive branch, clashed over ABS-CBN’s franchise extension.
Roque expressed confidence that Congress would tackle all the issues on the legality of granting a franchise to ABS-CBN, including the broadcast firm’s supposed violation of the 1987 Constitution when it allowed foreign ownership of the Philippine media entity.
“Sigurado po ako, isa po ito sa mga bagay na kinu-konsidera ng Kongreso ngayong pinag-uusapan na po kung bigyan ng renewal ng prangkisa ang ABS-CBN (I’m sure this will be considered by Congress when it tackles the franchise renewal bid of ABS-CBN),” he said.
Solicitor General Jose Calida on Sunday warned the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) against granting ABS-CBN provisional authority to operate after the expiration of the local media giant’s franchise.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said on Monday that ABS-CBN can continue its operations while the approval of its franchise is still pending in Congress.
Roque, however, said he believed that the NTC would not let any institution influence its decision.
“The official position of the President, since the matter is pending with the NTC, we will respect the decision of the NTC. Pero sa ngayon po, hintayin muna natin ang desisyon ng NTC (But for now, let’s wait for the decision of the NTC),” he said.
In a press statement on Tuesday, the NTC ordered ABS-CBN to cease the operations of its television and radio stations.
The NTC reached the decision, saying “ABS-CBN no longer has a valid and subsisting congressional franchise.” (ia/PNA)