CLAIMS that existing rules allow the operations of ABS-CBN Corp. beyond the end of its franchise next month or until 2022 must be made official, a senator said on Sunday, amid concerns that its termination will displace over 11,000 workers.
Senator Grace S. Poe-Llamanzares, who chairs the Committee on Public Services, said a temporary permit should be issued to this effect, asserting Congress’ power over matters relating to a franchise.
“Kahit sabihin pa nila na pwede naman ’yan i-extend hanggang 2022, maganda siguro kung in writing o kaya at least verbally sabihin sa Kongreso,” Ms. Llamanzares said in a statement on Sunday.
(Even if they say that the franchise may be extended until 2022, it is best if this is put in writing or at least verbally stated in Congress.)
She suggested the statement may read “We commit to give ABS-CBN, through the National Telecommunications Commission, a temporary permit to operate.”
Her statement comes after no less than Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III said that while the franchise expires in March 2020, the network may still operate while its franchise renewal remains pending in the 18th Congress.
Even Speaker Alan Peter S. Cayetano said the network may still operate until 2022, when the 18th Congress closes.
Ms. Llamanzares last week filed a resolution in exercise of the committee’s oversight function, seeking to hold an inquiry on the allegations against ABS-CBN and its unit, ABS-CBN Convergence, Inc.
The move comes as the proposed franchise renewal awaits committee deliberation in the House Committee on Legislative Franchises, chaired by Palawan first district Rep. Franz E. Alvarez.
Mr. Cayetano said the franchise would take a backseat to other measures, but assured it would be taken up before March 2022. ABS-CBN’s bid to have its franchise extended for another 25 years has been pending since the first year of President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s term.
The issue arose after Solicitor General Jose C. Calida’s move to have the network’s existing franchise forfeited via a quo warranto petition before the Supreme Court, citing among others the violation of ownership requirement. — Charmaine A. Tadalan