Solons seek ABS-CBN franchise extension; senator wary of resolution

By Charissa Luci-Atienza and Mario Casayuran

Cebu 1st District Rep. Raul del Mar has filed a House joint resolution extending the franchise of ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation until the end of 18th Congress on June 30, 2022.


He noted that the 12 bills seeking to renew the franchise of the Lopez-owned broadcasting firm remain pending in the House Committee on Legislative Franchises.

Under House Joint Resolution (HJR) No. 28, he said as Congress is set to adjourn on March 14, both the House of Representatives and Senate “need additional time to review, assess, and determine whether or not ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation shall be granted the renewal of its franchise.”

“This will enable Congress to discharge its constitutional duty of protecting public interest in the grant and repeal of franchises without trampling on rights to due process and infringing on free press and free speech,” Del Mar, who served since the 8th Congress, said.

HJR No. 28 has been pending with the House Committee on Legislative Franchises, chaired by Palawan 1st district Rep. Franz Alvarez since February 24, 2020.

A counterpart joint resolution has also been filed by Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon in the Upper Chamber.

Senate Joint Resolution No.11 aims to extend the network giant's franchise until December 31, 2022 amid uncertainties on the fate of the network.

Concerned about the motives behind the passing of a joint resolution seeking to extend ABS-CBN's franchise until the end of 2022, or six months after the end of the six-year term of President Duterte, Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go has urged his fellow lawmakers to immediately decide whether to renew or the 25-year ABS-CBN’s franchise that ends in early May or deny it altogether.

Go, former special assistant to President Duterte, raised concerns regarding the joint resolution filed by Drilon during an ambush interview after the Senate public hearing on ABS-CBN's franchise renewal conducted by the Senate public services committee chaired by Senator Grace Poe.

“Dalawang tanong lang? Bakit i-e-extend? (Two years only? Why extend it?) Why December 2022? It has something to do with politics again,” Go said, adding that the President's term would have expired by that time.

Instead of extending the franchise of the network through a joint resolution, Go said that the House of Representatives should just vote to approve or deny the pending bills in Congress.

“By that time, the term of President Duterte has ended. You may think that the President won’t approve that is why the franchise should be extended until end of 2022,” he added.

As for the provisional authority being pushed to allow ABS-CBN to operate beyond the expiry date of its franchise, Go said, “That is where we are headed for. I don’t want people to be out of work. I don’t want that to happen because we lacked time. Pity the workers.”