"I expected him to know better."
A group of senators led by Senate President Tito Sotto recently filed a bill seeking the “renewal” of the legislative franchise of ABS-CBN. Sotto even filed the explanatory note of their proposed measure, SB 1967, on his social media account.
This is what puzzles me. Sotto is a seasoned lawmaker, having served in the Senate for a total of 22 years, going 23 this year. Thus, we expect that he knows the rules when it comes to legislative franchises. But apparently, he chose to ignore the rules and proceeded with his move, which only left my lawyer-friend Larry Gadon laughing.
Gadon lambasted Sotto and the Senate bill which seeks to grant a new franchise to ABS-CBN, saying it is not possible under legal circumstances.
“It is nothing but a farce which deserves to be sneered and laughed at,” says Gadon.
First, Gadon stressed that franchises under the Constitution exclusively emanate from the House of Representatives and that the senate cannot initiate.
So, unless the House conducts new hearings and passes a franchise bill the Senate Bill is nothing but a stack of paper, Gadon insists.
And more importantly, which Sotto might have overlooked (or whatever), the ABS-CBN franchise expired and was never granted a new one because of the numerous violations presented against the station and its owners.
Another lawyer-friend, Al Vitangcol, stated in his column “that a franchise can be renewed only if it is still subsisting, during its term, or prior to its expiration. With ABS-CBN’s franchise having expired, what is there to renew?
Gadon adds that with the violations presented against ABS-CBN still unresolved, granting the station another franchise should be out of the question.
Gadon raises the following questions:
(a) The question on the land title and land ownership is something that has remained unanswered, so will the House blindly skip this highly moral and legal issue just to kowtow to the wishes of six senators?
(b) The issues of PDRs and Tax avoidance, tax evasion have not been fully resolved, so are we saying that these violations should just be swept under the rug just because six senators want a new franchise granted with blind eyes?
(c) The integrity of management of ABS-CBN on their violations of Labor Laws, which turned out to be more than a hundred cases pending before the NLRC, CA, and SC, are we just going to treat them with kid gloves?
(d) The question of taking over government facilities and equipment which ABS-CBN claims that was allegedly granted by the PCGG which was unproven because not a single document was presented to prove such claims. Are we going to just bury this issue into oblivion just because six senators want to grant ABS-CBN a new franchise?
The funny thing is that Sotto and his co-authors insist on the granting of a franchise for ABS-CBN saying this needs to be done as television programs are now at their worst after the station went off the air. That is not only saying other television stations are trash, but that also constitutes a direct insult to other stations.
Since when has the Senate assume the role of the MTRCB in classifying television programs, Gadon sarcastically asks.
But whether Gadon’s question appears to be sarcastic or not, that is true. ABS-CBN is not the only nationwide broadcasting media organization.
“To set aside the issues which ABS-CBN have not responded to is just too immoral not only illegal for the flimsy reason of broadcasting,” Gadon avers.
But if ever Sotto and his co-authors insist on having ABS-CBN granted another franchise on reasons programs of other television stations are mere trash, then I would personally support Gadon’s proposal to uplift the quality of television programming. Air Eat Bulaga on every television station. Lol!