PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte’s office on Monday released approved laws extending the franchise of Smart Broadband, Inc. and five other telecommunication firms.

Mr. Duterte signed Republic Act No. 11678, which extends for another 25 years the franchise given to Smart Broadband, Inc., a subsidiary of Smart Communications, Inc., which is chaired by Manuel V. Pangilinan.

Smart Communications is the wireless subsidiary of PLDT, Inc, one of the country’s major telecommunication providers.

Mr. Duterte also renewed for another 25 years the franchise granted to Odiongan Telephone Corp., Mati Telephone Corp., Bicol Telephone and Telegraph, Inc., Marbel Telephone System, Inc., and Yulo Telephone System, Inc.

Mr. Duterte also signed laws approving the franchise bids of Capricom Broadcasting Network, Sulu-Tawi-Tawi Broadcasting Foundation, and Southern Luzon State University.

In July 2020, his allies in Congress rejected the franchise application of ABS-CBN Corp., the largest television network in the Philippines.

Last year, the media giant announced a partnership with rival TV5 Network, Inc, which is owned by Mr. Pangilinan’s MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., to allow more of its content to air on free television across the country.

In 2021, Mr. Duterte said he would bar ABS-CBN from using free TV and radio frequencies even if it gets a fresh franchise from Congress. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza