Broadcast network giant ABS-CBN is being given an illusory alternative remedy instead of being granted a justified renewal of its franchise, Albay 1st District Representative Edcel Lagman said.
The reasons proffered by Speaker Alan Cayetano for foot-dragging on the renewal of the franchise of giant network ABS-CBN are not so overriding as to sacrifice the freedoms of the press and expression for expediency, Lagman said.
Lagman said Cayetano has expressed that time is not of the essence because after the expiration of ABS-CBN’s franchise on March 30, 2020, it can continue operations by securing a provisional authority from the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) as long as the 18th Congress has not adjourned “sine die.”
If the House of Representatives, which is an independent branch of government, kowtows to the repeated pronouncements of the President that he is against the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise, with more reason that the NTC, an agency under the Executive Department headed by the President himself, would go against the wishes of President Duterte by issuing a provisional authority, said Lagman.
The renewal of a franchise is the legal, proper, and traditional course of action under the sole jurisdiction of the Congress, he said.
“While Cayetano admits the importance of renewing the network’s franchise, he stated that there are more important measures which the House of Representatives must address like the creation of the Department of Overseas Filipinos and Foreign Employment which would mistakenly make permanent the export of Filipino labor from a temporary stop-gap measure,” said Lagman.
Lagman said the House is used to multi-tasking so much so that it could legislate on several measures within a short timeframe or almost simultaneously.
Moreover, the committee on legislative franchises is not overwhelmed with the pendency of major bills which are more greatly important than the 11 proposals to renew ABS-CBN’s franchise, he said.
The timetable announced by Cayetano for the House to take up the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise within the duration of the 18th Congress or up to the latest in March 2022 reveals a patent prolongation before the renewal can be addressed even as the May 2022 general elections would necessitate the adjournment of the Congress as early as February 2022 and long after the expiration of the said franchise on March 30, 2020, Lagman said./Stacy Ang