SENATOR Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go said that broadcasting network ABS-CBN will be treated fairly if the bills that seek to renew its franchise are approved in the House of Representatives and forwarded to the Senate.
“Bibigyan po natin ng fair na pagdinig kung saka-sakaling umabot ito sa Senado. Ang amin naman dito ay kapakanan po ng bawat Pilipino, kapakanan ng mga empleyado at, rest assured, na ang interes ng bawat Pilipino ang mangunguna sa magiging desisyon ko,” Go told reporters in an interview when he visited Jolo, Sulu, to distribute financial and relief assistance to more than 11,000 victims of a fire incident.
The Senator emphasized that he will decide at the proper time. “Ayoko pong magsalita muna bilang mambabatas dahil once approved by the Lower House, (the bills) will reach our office, ang Senado, at boboto po kami diyan, so I will decide by that time po kung dapat ba nating i-renew,” he said.
The bills that seek to renew ABS CBN’s franchise remain pending at the House Committee on Legislative Franchises, with only a few weeks left before the expiration of the network’s existing franchise.
Because the bills have been filed, Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Isabela Representative Antonio Albano stated in interviews that the existing franchise is deemed extended until the end of the 18th Congress in March 2022 unless Congress makes an earlier denial of the renewal.
“Marami pong legal issues diyan kasi noong nakaraan po, including the CBCP (Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines) ay pinayagang mag-operate while pending pa ang kanilang application for renewal,” Go commented.
“Nasa executive department na po ito, kung hahayaan sila ng NTC (National Telecommunications Commission) na mag-operate muna while the franchise is being heard sa Kongreso,” the Senator added.
“Maraming legal issues ang pinag-uusapan sa ngayon. Antayin na lang po natin ang legal opinion ng DOJ (Department of Justice) o ng ating NTC,” he also advised the public.
Solicitor General Jose Calida has earlier filed a petition for quo warranto before the Supreme Court to revoke the franchise of ABS-CBN allegedly due to, among others, allowing foreign ownership.
Last February 12, Senator Grace Poe filed a Senate resolution directing the Committee on Public Services to investigate the compliance of the network to its current franchise.
Go expressed support for the investigation. “Karapatan po ng bawat Senador na magpatawag ng hearing at pakinggan ang opinyon ng bawat Pilipino. Kung magkakaroon ng imbestigasyon ay tawagin po natin ang lahat para mapakinggan fairly at mapalabas ang katotohanan,” he said.
“Kung kakailanganin po, pwede namang ipatawag si Solicitor General Calida para masabi niya kung ano ang mga violations (ng ABS-CBN) that he cited sa kanyang na-file sa Supreme Court, at bilang abogado ng gobyerno, ginagawa niya lang po ang kanyang trabaho,” he added.
“Antayin na lang po natin ang Supreme Court kung ano ang magiging kanilang desisyon. Pinasagot naman ang both parties,” Go also said.