House resolution filed on franchise

REP. Raul del Mar (Cebu City, north district) has introduced a joint resolution for the extension of the franchise of ABS-CBN until the end of the 18th Congress on June 30, 2022.

Del Mar, in a joint resolution filed on Feb. 18, 2020, said there are 12 bills seeking to renew the the franchise of ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp., however, there are only 11 session days left, from the day he filed the bill, before the adjournment of Congress on March 14.

The media company’s franchise to operate expires this coming March 30.

Del Mar said the 12 bills are still pending with the House committee on legislative franchises.

“Since there are only 11 session days left before the next adjournment of Congress on March 14, both the House of Representatives and the Senate need additional time to review, assess and determine whether or not ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp. shall be granted the renewal of its franchise,” del Mar wrote in the resolution, a copy of which was sent to SunStar Cebu.

He said the additional time would enable Congress to discuss and deliberate on the matter.

“This will enable Congress to discharge its constitutional duty of protecting public interest in the grant and repeal of franchises, without trampling on rights to due process and infringing on free press and free speech,” he added.

Last Feb. 10, Solicitor General Jose Calida filed a quo warranto petition before the Supreme Court asking that it forfeit the legislative franchise of ABS-CBN Corp. and its subsidiary, ABS-CBN Convergence, for alleged violations of the terms and conditions of its franchise.

President Rodrigo Duterte has threatened to shut down the media company as he accused it of bias and fraud when it did not air his political advertisement in the 2016 polls.

Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said last week the House would not tackle bills seeking to renew ABS-CBN’s franchise until May when members return from their summer break, or after the President’s State of the Nation Address. He said there are more urgent matters for the congressmen to address such as the novel coronavirus outbreak. (JJL)