Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Congress urged to heed Sara advice on ABS-CBN

With Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio supporting the franchise renewal of broadcast giant ABS-CBN, the House leadership was urged yesterday to extend the validity of the franchise until a new one is approved.

Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, among proponents of 11 bills seeking to renew the network’s 25-year franchise, said the mayor’s statement, which was given after her father President Duterte accepted ABS-CBN’s apology over issues involving campaign commercials in the 2016 polls, should guide the House leadership on the administration’s position. “Since President Duterte has already accepted the apology, and with the statement of Mayor Sara Duterte supporting the franchise, I appeal to the House leadership to set the hearing of our resolution extending the franchise for at least a year up to May 4, 2021 in order to let ABS-CBN continue its operations and also give time for the House to deliberate on the 11 bills extending the franchise for another 25 years,” he told The STAR. Rodriguez was referring to House Joint Resolution 29 that seeks the extension of the franchise to May 2021 until Congress is able to resolve the matter and decide on the bills seeking to renew the network’s franchise set to expire on May 4.

Another resolution was filed earlier by Cebu Rep. Raul del Mar, which sought a franchise extension to June 2022 or until the end of the 18th Congress.

Rodriguez shared the opinion of retired chief justice Reynato Puno that the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has no power to grant provisional authority to allow ABS-CBN to continue operating with expired franchise. “Only Congress can extend the franchise and ABS-CBN cannot legally operate without a valid franchise,” he stressed.

This is contrary to the position taken by Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano who ordered the NTC to issue a provisional authority to the network to operate from May 4, 2020 until such time that Congress has made a decision on its application for renewal of franchise. Cayetano has yet to comment on Mayor Duterte’s pronouncements on the matter.

But he earlier said that while the President’s acceptance of the network’s apology was a positive development, it would not affect the House’s position on the matter.

In supporting the network’s franchise renewal, Mayor Duterte cited its significant help to the city and the rest of the country through the years. She hopes that the issue would be resolved in a positive way as she recalled that the President used to host a weekly talk show over the local ABS-CBN station in Davao City. Cayetano said the franchise renewal is not hinged on the personal issues of Duterte.

“It’s never been about the President. The President never dictated the direction we are taking on this ABS-CBN franchise issue. This issue is a big gateway for us to balance democracy, press freedom, role of the media and role of big businesses and political actors in our country,” he stressed. The Speaker explained that there are still issues that the network needs to address for its franchise renewal application as he stressed that the Senate cannot as yet intervene on the issue.

“Senate should not be in the picture as of now because, as you know, if we deny the franchise it does not go to the Senate anymore... Let’s respect the Constitution,” he said.
SOURCE: www.philstar.com