Senate OKs resolution seeking continued ABS-CBN ops beyond franchise expiration

Robie de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate on Wednesday adopted a resolution which seeks to allow broadcast network ABS-CBN Corp. and its subsidiaries to continue to operate beyond the expiration of its franchise on May 4.

Senate Resolution 6, which was filed by Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on February 26, “expresses the sense of the Senate” that ABS-CBN “should continue to operate pending final determination of the renewal of its franchise by the 18th Congress.”

The Senate said the adopted resolution can be used as basis by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to grant ABS-CBN a provisional authority to continue its broadcast operations after the franchise lapses.

The resolution was in consideration with Resolutions 7, 8 and 344 which also seek to allow ABS-CBN to remain on air until Congress resolves its franchise woes.

It was adopted without any objection from among those present in the plenary.

The upper chamber agreed to craft the resolution following the suggestion of Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra in a previous Senate hearing that Congress should allow, through a resolution, NTC to issue a provisional permit to operate to the network.

Drilon, however, clarified the concurrent resolution does not effectively extend the network’s license to operate since it does not have “the force and effect of the law.”

“It only formally conveys the sense of the Senate about extending the franchise and does not need the signature of the President,” he said.

He also said that the measure “would give some degree of legal stability” if Congress could issue authority to the NTC.

When asked on how it would affect the quo warranto petition filed by the Office of the Solicitor General before the Supreme Court, Drilon said the matter is separate from the resolution.

“Let the ABS-CBN defend its position before the Supreme Court,” he said.

The House of Representatives has also formally asked the NTC to grant ABS-CBN a provisional permit to operate effective from May 4, 2020 until such time that the Congress has made a decision on its application.

The letter, signed by House Committee on Legislative Franchises chairman Franz Alvarez and concurred by Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, was sent to NTC on February 26.

Cayetano on Wednesday announced that the lower chamber will start on March 10 its hearings on bills seeking a new franchise for ABS-CBN Corp.

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