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ABS-CBN interim permit recalled

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THE House of Representatives reconsidered the second reading approval of House Bill (HB) 6732, which seeks to grant provisional franchise to ABS-CBN Corp. until October 31, 2020.

During the session on Monday, House Deputy Majority Leader Wilter Wee Palma II said lawmakers recalled the second reading approval to give way to members who wish to make interpellations and amendments to HB 6732.

The bill was approved on second reading on Wednesday last week, the same day it was filed by House Speaker Alan Peter S. Cayetano.

Albay Rep. Edcel C. Lagman raised constitutional concerns on the passage of the bill in first and second readings on the same day.

“This concurrent passage on first and second reading on the same day on 13 May 2020 violates Sec. 26 (6) of Art. VI of the Constitution which unequivocally requires three readings on separate days for a bill to become a law, unless certified urgent by the President,” he said in a statement on Monday.

Mr. Lagman, however, lauded the House leadership “for seeing the light on the need to reconsider the approval on second reading” of the bill.

He further encouraged the House leaders to expedite the consideration of the bills proposing for a 25-year renewal of the network’s franchise.

“The hearings on the franchise renewal bills should be calendared soonest to enable ABS-CBN to explain or traverse its alleged franchise violations and ventilate all other related issues once and for all,” he said.

ABS-CBN DEFENDS ASSIGNED FREQUENCIES
Separately on Monday, ABS-CBN said it had submitted on May 15 its written explanation to the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) Legal Branch why the frequencies assigned to it should not be recalled.

The submission is required by the cease-and-desist order issued on May 5 by the commission against the media giant whose franchise had expired on May 4.

In its 19-page explanation, the network denied the conclusion made by the NTC that its “frequencies should be recalled on the ground that its legislative franchise had expired.”

“Recent events indicate that the grant of a legislative franchise to ABS-CBN is forthcoming. The recall of the assigned franchise would thus be a useless and costly exercise, in contravention of the intent and desire of Congress,” it said.

The media company added being allowed to retain its frequencies is “consistent with legislative policy.”

It argued that instant proceedings on the matter must be suspended as the Supreme Court has yet to decide on its petition to block the cease-and-desist order issued by the commission.

The network said the recall of the assigned frequencies “may only be done after hearing and compliance with the requisites of due process of law.” — Genshen L. Espedido and Arjay L. Balinbin





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