“Of course, malaki din ang suporta ng ABS-CBN sa Davao City at sa buong bansa,” she said.
Mae Anne Los Banos/TV 5
Sara backs franchise approval for ABS-CBN
Edith Regalado (The Philippine Star) - February 28, 2020 - 12:00am

DAVAO CITY, Philippines  – Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio yesterday expressed support for the franchise renewal application of ABS-CBN Corp. after her father, President Duterte, accepted the network’s apology over the airing of a 2016 election advertisement against him. 

Carpio cited the significant help ABS-CBN has extended to the city and the rest of the country through the years. 

“Of course, malaki din ang suporta ng ABS-CBN sa Davao City at sa buong bansa,” she said.

Carpio hopes that the issue on franchise renewal of ABS-CBN would be resolved in a positive way.

She said the President used to host “Gikan sa masa, para sa masa,” a weekly talk show over the local ABS-CBN station in Davao City.

“Alam niyo naman si President Duterte, maawain ‘yan na tao. Iniisip din niya ang trabaho ng maraming empleyado ng ABS-CBN,” Carpio said, noting her father’s compassionate nature would keep in mind the network’s employees.

The House of Representatives has yet to tackle several bills seeking the renewal of ABS-CBN’s license to operate, which expires on May 4. 

The network is also facing a quo warranto case filed before the Supreme Court by Solicitor General Jose Calida, which sought to nullify ABS-CBN’s franchise due to alleged abuses such as illegal pay-per-view offering and foreign ownership.

Provisional authority

Television network ABS-CBN may continue to operate pending renewal of its franchise as Congress may allow the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to issue broadcast companies provisional authority, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said yesterday.

Issuing guidance to the NTC, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra cited how Congress has previously allowed broadcast firms to continue operations pending franchise renewal as an “equitable practice.” 

“There is sufficient basis to allow broadcast entities to continue operating while the bills for the renewal of their franchise remain pending before Congress,” Guevarra said in a six-page letter addressed to NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba dated Feb. 26. 

The NTC said it is carefully reviewing its action regarding the issuance of a provisional authority to ABS-CBN.

“Our legal team is studying the letter from the House of Representatives and the DOJ opinion,” NTC deputy commissioner Edgardo Cabarios said.

“Once we get the results of the analysis of the legal team, we will come up with a decision,” Cabarios added.

He said the NTC is reviewing whether or not the letter from Congress is enough for them to proceed with the issuance of the provisional authority or if there is still a need for a concurrent resolution as expressed in the DOJ opinion.

“We are guided by the opinion of the DOJ because that is the lawyer for the government. All legal matters are referred to the justice department,” Cabarios said.

Cordoba had requested the DOJ’s legal opinion on the matter.

Guevarra said the question of whether or not ABS-CBN may continue to operate beyond the lapse of its franchise on May 4 would be better deliberated in Congress.

The House committee on legislative franchise has asked the NTC to issue a provisional authority to ABS-CBN pending renewal of its franchise.

House won’t expedite franchise bills

ABS-CBN will not be able to immediately get a new legislative franchise even after President Duterte accepted its apology as the House leadership has opted to stick to its plan not to expedite deliberations on bills seeking renewal of the network’s 25-year franchise before its expiration on May 4.

In an interview yesterday, Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said the franchise renewal is not hinged on the personal issues of Duterte with the network over his unaired political ads and a negative campaign commercial against him during the presidential elections in 2016.

While the House leader welcomed the President’s acceptance of the network’s apology, Cayetano said there are still issues that ABS-CBN needs to address for its franchise renewal application.

“It’s a step forward that ABS-CBN has acknowledged some of its lapses and mistakes. But this is not about power, it’s not about the President,” he said.

Cayetano stood firm in their decision not to prioritize the franchise bills in the remaining six session days before the House goes on a seven-week break, adding there are “more urgent” measures to be tackled and passed by Congress.

He reiterated that the House panel would hear the ABS-CBN franchise bills when sessions resume in May.

This means the network’s franchise will expire on May 4 and ABS-CBN may be granted provisional authority to continue operations by the NTC upon the request by the House.

The Speaker rejected the proposal of Cebu Rep. Raul del Mar and Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez for Congress to issue a joint resolution extending the franchise either until 2021 or 2022 while the House deliberates on the measures.

Cayetano also reiterated that the Senate has no business hearing the franchise issue – an opinion earlier supported by retired chief justice Reynato Puno, who said the issuance of legislative franchise is an exclusive power of the House under the Constitution.

Lawmakers questioned the move of the House leadership to allow ABS-CBN to continue operating even after expiration of its franchise in May. 

Members of the administration and opposition blocs assailed Cayetano and the committee on legislative franchises to enjoin the NTC to grant the network provisional authority.

Reps. Jocelyn Tulfo of ACT-CIS party-list, Carlos Zarate of Bayan Muna and Edcel Lagman of Albay believed that the issuance of provisisonal permit would be counterproductive.

They said the House panel should instead start hearing the franchise bills.

Poe to ABS-CBN: Be fair

Sen. Grace Poe called on ABS-CBN to continue doing its job and report fairly and without fear as Congress tackles its franchise renewal application.

“Kung may mali huwag matakot, at kung may tama, ‘wag din naman tipirin ang pagbibigay-pugay, so balansehin, ‘yan ang dasal ko na habang nagkakaroon ng walang–kasiguruhan ay manatiling patas at ‘wag matakot,” Poe said.

She reiterated the authority of Congress to grant or revoke legislative franchises as one imbued with public interest, but which should not be used to curtail freedom of expression as in the case of broadcasting networks.

“We are the representatives of the people and the most important part is public interest, it’s imbibed with public interest not personal interests. So I don’t think Congress should use the franchise as a weapon to get what they want,” she said.

The Senate committee on public services chaired by Poe on Monday conducted a hearing on the bill seeking renewal of ABS-CBN franchise.

Poe expressed support for the concurrent resolution to be filed by Minority Leader Franklin Drilon for the NTC to allow ABS-CBN to operate past the expiry of its franchise.

She also backed the joint resolution earlier filed by Drilon to extend the network’s franchise until 2022.

With only six session days to go before going on Lenten break on March 13, Sen. Panfilo Lacson said Congress could still work on the renewal of ABS-CBN franchise.

Lacson said senators are likely to support the renewal of the network’s franchise.

Once the Senate receives the measure from the House of Representatives, Lacson said senators would immediately act on the matter.

Albay Rep. Joey Salceda expressed confidence the franchise of ABS-CBN would be renewed citing the approval of the franchise of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) despite being at odds with President Duterte.

Salceda said the network’s franchise would most likely be renewed.

“There’s precedent. Since CBCP’s franchise was approved, all the more ABS-CBN’s,” he said, noting the antagonistic relationship between the administration and the church.  – With Evelyn Macairan, Richmond Mercurio, Edu Punay, Cecille Suerte Felipe, Louella Desiderio

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