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Lawmakers back people’s initiative on ABS-CBN franchise

Edu Punay - The Philippine Star
Lawmakers back peopleâs initiative on ABS-CBN franchise
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman and Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza both said that bringing the issue to the public is a viable option for the network as provided for in the 1987 Constitution.
AFP / Maria Tan

MANILA, Philippines – Two veteran lawmakers yesterday expressed support for the proposal to conduct a people’s initiative to push for the renewal of television network ABS-CBN’s franchise that was recently denied by a congressional panel.

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman and Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza both said that bringing the issue to the public is a viable option for the network as provided for in the 1987 Constitution.

“People’s initiative is provided for under Section 32 of Article VI of the 1987 Constitution and implemented by R.A. 6735 or the Initiative and Referendum Act. Under this process, the people can directly legislate without the participation of Congress and without the approval of the President once the Comelec has validated the signatures of at least 10 percent of the total number of registered voters nationwide and at least 3 percent of registered voters per congressional district proposing for the passage of a law,” he explained to The STAR.

Lagman said the Commission on Elections (Comelec) shall schedule the voting on the people’s legislative initiative and the proposed renewal of the network’s franchise will become a law if approved by majority of the votes cast.

The lawmaker, however, admitted that the proposal could face serious challenges.

“The 2020 General Appropriations Act has no funding for the exercise of people’s initiative,” he lamented.

But for Atienza, it could still be pursued – especially after affirmation of the public’s support to the franchise renewal based on a recent survey of Social Weather Station that showed three out of four or 75 percent of Filipinos favor the grant of the franchise application.

“It’s a tedious and expensive process but we have to listen to the will of the people, which should prevail over decision of a congressional committee. Power of the people is always supreme,” he stressed.

But for Atienza, people’s initiative “should be a last resort when all other remedies like filing of motion for reconsideration and elevation to the House plenary fail.”

ABS-CBN FRANCHISE
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