By Hannah Torregoza
Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon on Monday filed a joint resolution that seeks to extend the franchise of ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation up to the end of 2022.
Drilon said it is necessary to give both houses of Congress time to review the application for renewal of the network’s franchise, considering the uncertainties on the fate of the network’s 25-year franchise which is set to expire on March 30, 2020.
The minority chief said that the sudden move to cut ABS-CBN’s operations would render thousands of families unemployed and will affect millions of its viewers locally and abroad.
“On March 30, 2020, more than 11,000 families will go home jobless and millions of viewers will be affected if we do not act on this resolution immediately. I, therefore, urge for the immediate passage of this resolution,” Drilon said in filing Senate Joint Resolution No. 11.
“It is the Congress, not the Supreme Court that has jurisdiction to review compliance by ABS-CBN of the terms of the franchise by Congress, especially that there are pending bills seeking to renew its franchise,” Drilon earlier said.
In his resolution, the former justice secretary stressed both the Senate and the House of Representatives need additional time to review, assess, and determine whether or not ABS-CBN shall be granted the renewal of its franchise.
Drilon noted that there are only 12 session days left before the next adjournment of Congress scheduled on March 14, 2020.
Thus, he said it is necessary to extend the validity of the franchise of ABS-CBN until Dec. 31, 2022 in order to give Congress enough time to study the measures seeking to renew its franchise.
ABS-CBN got its franchise after Congress passed into law Republic Act 7966 in March 30, 1995.
The franchise enabled the network giant to construct, operate and maintain, for commercial purposes and in the public interest, television and radio broadcasting stations in and throughout the country.
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However, House leaders have yet to tackle the various bills filed that seek to renew ABS-CBN’s franchise.
And last Feb. 10, the Solicitor General sued the network before the Supreme Court by filing a quo warranto petition to forfeit the legislative franchise of ABS-CBN Corporation and its subsidiary ABS-CBN Convergence, for alleged violations of the terms and conditions of its franchise.
Several lawmakers denounced the move and reiterated that since Congress gave ABS-CBN its franchise, only Congress has the jurisdiction to grant or reject its franchise.