The Palace on Wednesday said lawmakers should pass a law extending the validity of ABS-CBN’s franchise, which expires on March 30, if they are really inclined to renew it.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said this would enable the broadcast giant to continue operating until its new franchise is granted.
READ: House bloc bats for ABS-CBN permit renewal
Earlier, Rep. Antonio Albano, vice chairman of the House committee on legislative franchises, said that in practice, ABS-CBN may be allowed to operate while Congress debates bills to extend its franchise.
But Panelo said a simpler way was to simply pass a new law to extend its validity.
Ako Bicol Rep. Alfredo Garbin previously said that the franchise of GMA Network, another broadcast company, expired on March 20, 2017, but it continued to operate with its authority renewed through a law signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on April 21, 2017.
Garbin also said the franchise of the 29 radio stations of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines expired in 2017 but they continued to operate even if the franchise was only renewed by the Congress in 2019.
Under Republic Act 3846, radio and television stations are required to seek a franchise from Congress.
ABS-CBN’s current franchise was approved through Republic Act 7966 on March 30, 1995.
Senator Christopher “Bong” Go on Wednesday said House members should act immediately on bills seeking to renew ABS-CBN’s franchise.
READ: Business groups ask Congress to renew franchise of ABS-CBN
He said the lawmakers should vote according to their conscience and assured the public that President Duterte would not pressure them to vote one way or the other.
Go, a constant companion of the President, said Duterte was not being vindictive when he publicly declared that he would block the renewal of the network’s franchise.
He said Duterte merely expressed displeasure over ABS-CBN’s failure to air his political advertisement when he was running for president in 2016.
Go would not say, however, if he would support an extension to ABS-CBN’s franchise.
On the other hand, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said he is in favor of the extension, saying none of the complaints against the network were “fatally defective.”
“I’ll put it this way. Here in the Senate, I think all of us got hit by ABS-CBN. Nobody here… was spared, but I don’t think that’s fatally defective on their franchise, or for any other media network. That’s your job. You’re the fourth estate,” Recto said.
READ: Drilon rushes to extend ABS franchise
The Senate public services committee chaired by Senator Grace Poe is set to hear the ABS-CBN’s franchise extension on Feb. 24.
In related developments:
• The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) on Tuesday said ABS-CBN has no outstanding tax liabilities, contrary to allegations being circulated online.
• A militant labor organization on Wednesday said shutting down the operations of ABS-CBN will not solve the network’s labor issues and will only place its 11,000 workers’ jobs in peril. Defend Jobs Philippines said it would be moot and academic to talk about issues of regularization, wages, benefits, and safe workplaces if the company’s franchise is not renewed.
• The Integrated Bar of the Philippines on Wednesday urged the public to trust that the Supreme Court to render a fair judgment in the quo warranto petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida, who wants the justices to nullify the network’s franchise because of alleged violations of constitutional limits to foreign ownership of media.
READ: SolGen acts to cancel ABS-CBN franchise