Senators air views on franchise issue

February 10, 2020

SENATORS yesterday stressed that Congress has the sole authority to approve, revoke or renew a franchise.

This was after Solicitor General Jose Calida filed a quo warranto petition against ABS-CBN franchise.

“As the Constitution mandates, the Senate’s jurisdiction over franchises remains despite the existence of the petition,” Sen. Grace Poe, chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Services said.

Poe also said that she trusts that the Court will decide on the basis of fairness and for the interest of the greatest number of people.

“I think this is not just an issue of franchise, but this is in a broader stroke, a concern for fair and sound business practice, press freedom, and jobs for all the employees of the television network,” she added.

For his part, Sen. Win Gatchalian insisted that a quo warranto petition is unnecessary at this point since the franchise of the company will automatically expire by the end of March this year.

“Ang importante sa ngayon ay mag-umpisa na yung hearings sa Lower House para mai-akyat na dito sa Senado para mapag-usapan kung ano ang naging pagkukulang ng kumpanya at kung mayroon man, pag-usapan din kung ano ang dapat na ma-improve. Iyan po ang natural process ng isang franchise,” he said.

Senator Panfilo Lacson, on the other hand, said that the issue is a matter of different jurisdictions.

“The quo warranto petition is under the original jurisdiction of the Court. Approval or renewal of legislative franchise is the jurisdiction of both houses of Congress. As such, I see no conflict in jurisdictions,” Lacson explained.

“Solicitor General Jose Calida cannot be prevented from filing the petition in the case of the legislative franchise of ABS-CBN.Likewise, Congress is likewise not prevented from exercising its powers under the same Constitution to act on the application for renewal or a new franchise which is now pending before the House of Representatives,” he further said.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said he does not know what the SolGen wants to achieve in filing a quo warranto case against ABS-CBN.

“The franchise of ABS-CBN will expire on March 30. Hence, a quo warranto becomes moot by then if Congress does not act on extension,” he said.

“If between now and March, Congress decides to hear the franchise renewal of ABS-CBN, all these issues raised by SolGen Calida in his quo warranto petition can be taken up during the hearing,” he added.