House leaders hailed over hearing on ABS-CBN franchise renewal

OPPOSITION solon Albay Representative  Edcel Lagman welcomed the decision of the House leadership to start hearing the ABS-CBN Corporation franchise renewal.

Lagman is the author of a  resolution calling on the House Committee on Legislative Franchises to open the hearing on the 11 pending measures on the franchise renewal.

On March 10, the committee led by Palawan Rep. Franz Alvarez will start deliberating on the franchise of ABS-CBN Corporation and its subsidiaries which is set to expire by May this year.

“On behalf of the numerous advocates for press freedom in the House of Representatives, I truly appreciate the decision of Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano to start on March 10, 2020 the consideration of the 11 bills proposing the extension for another 25 years of the legislative franchise of ABS-CBN,” Lagman said.         

According to Lagman, this will advance the belated timetable previously announced by Speaker Cayetano which would unduly delay the consideration and approval of the imperiled franchise.             

Meanwhile, the first hearing on March 10 will be devoted to the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) which will be asked for its position on the provisional authority to be given to the television network.

No officials of ABS-CBN were invited for next week’s hearing.

Earlier, Speaker Cayetano and Alvarez wrote a letter to the NTC asking it to grant the ABS-CBN Corp., its subsidiaries and affiliates provisional authority to operate until the end of the 18th Congress or until the renewal is granted.

The House leaders also asked other stakeholders to submit their position papers on the proposed renewal.

More than 90 solons have signed the resolution filed by Lagman and agreed that the hearings are necessary.

Provisional authority

Lawyer Lorenzo Gadon yesterday asked the Supreme Court to stop the National Telecommunications Commission from issuing a provisional authority to operate to television giant ABS-CBN once its franchise expires this May.

At the same time, Gadon, who became “famous” for initiating the impeachment complaint against ousted chief justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno, also asked the SC to issue a temporary restraining order while his petition is pending resolution.

Gadon explained that the NTC has no authority to issue a provisional permit to ABS-CBN inasmuch as its original mandate was “merely regulatory and supervisory.”

He pointed out that the authorizations the NTC can only issue are “in addition to the required congressional franchise,” citing a February 2003 high court decision as his basis.

“The application for Certificates of Public Convenience with the NTC comes after securing a franchise from Congress. The NTC cannot issue a CPC unless there is a valid franchise,” Gadon’s petition read in part.

With Hector Lawas