MANILA – Malacañang on Thursday considered as the “best move” the House of Representatives’ approval of a measure giving ABS-CBN Corp. a provisional franchise for the local media giant to go back on air until October 31 this year.
This, after congressmen on Wednesday passed on second reading a bill granting ABS-CBN a temporary license to resume its broadcast operations for five months while Congress decides whether the network deserves to get a fresh 25-year franchise.
In a virtual presser aired on state-run PTV-4, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque maintained that only Congress has the power to give ABS-CBN a new franchise.
“It’s not only the best move. It’s the only move under the Constitution because it’s very clear po na tanging Kongreso lang ang pupwedeng mag-grant ng franchise o mag-revoke ng franchise para sa mga broadcast company (that only Congress can grant or revoke the franchise of broadcast companies),” Roque said.
The House of Representatives approved House Bill (HB) 6732, which seeks to grant ABS-CBN a franchise to construct, install, operate, and maintain radio and television broadcasting stations in the Philippines.
HB 6732, authored by House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and seven other House leaders, intends to give ABS-CBN a provisional franchise that will be valid until Oct. 30, 2020, “unless sooner revoked or cancelled.”
The franchise bill still needs the concurrence of the Senate.
The ratified measure from Congress will then be submitted to President Rodrigo Duterte’s office for his signature.
Roque said Duterte would sign the bill renewing the 25-year franchise to ABS-CBN if there is no reason to reject the measure.
“Inaasahan ko naman po na kung wala naman pong constitutional infirmity, pipirmahan po ito ni Presidente dahil ipinarating na rin niya ang mensahe sa mga miyembro ng Kongreso, he is neutral, do your constitutional function (We expect the President to sign [the franchise bill] if there is no constitutional infirmity because he already sent a message to members of Congress that he is neutral and they should do their constitutional function),” he said.
The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), in its cease and desist order dated May 5, directed ABS-CBN to halt the broadcast operations of its television and radio stations nationwide after the media network’s legislative franchise expired on May 4.
ABS-CBN went off air the same day the NTC issued the cease and desist order against the local media giant.
It asked the Supreme Court on May 7 to nullify and set aside the NTC’s order, claiming that the commission “gravely abused its discretion” when it issued a cease and desist order.
It also alleged that the NTC’s order “violates the right of the public to information and curtail freedom of speech, as well as cause serious and irreparable damage on ABS-CBN and thousands of its employees if its implementation is not halted.” (ia/PNA)