“We lost a media partner in information dissemination, considering that the broadcast network has one of the widest, if not the widest reach, in the archipelago,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque said over the weekend.
Geremy Pintolo, file
People’s initiative? Franchise grant is Congress’ prerogative — Roque
Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - July 13, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang, which previously claimed that the rejection of the ABS-CBN franchise bill is the decision of the “people,” maintained that the grant of broadcasting franchise is the sole and exclusive prerogative of Congress.

“We lost a media partner in information dissemination, considering that the broadcast network has one of the widest, if not the widest reach, in the archipelago,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque said over the weekend.

“That being said, we reiterate that the granting of the broadcasting franchise is the sole and exclusive prerogative of Congress,” he added.

Roque cited Republic Act No. 7925, or the Public Telecommunications Policy Act, which states that a franchise is “a privilege conferred upon a telecommunications entity by Congress, authorizing that entity to engage in a certain type of telecommunications service.”

Roque said the Palace is leaving it to the Supreme Court to decide on claims that the network can get a franchise through people’s initiative.

He noted that Article VI, Section 32 of the Constitution, states that Congress must “provide for a system of initiative and referendum, and the exceptions therefrom, whereby the people can directly propose and enact laws, or approve or reject any act or law or part thereof passed by Congress.”

That system is found in the Iniative and Referendum Act, Roque added.

“Whether the franchise of ABS-CBN may be granted through a people’s initiative, despite the clear wording of RA 7925, whether it matters that a franchise bill is a private bill that must ‘originate exclusively in the House of Representatives’ in accordance with Article VI, Section 24 of the Constitution – these and related questions we leave to the Supreme Court, as the final arbiter of the appropriate interpretation of these provisions in the Constitution and our laws,” the Palace spokesman said.

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