Give the House the courtesy of exercising its power over franchises — Alvarez

Published May 4, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin


By Ben Rosario

As the body that has exclusive authority to decide on all applications for legislative franchises, Congress should also be granted the “courtesy to complete the exercise of this power.”

The Joint Session of the Senate and the House of Representatives on the extension of Martial Law in Mindanao commences in the Plenary of the Batasang Pambansa on December 13, 2017. (ALVIN KASIBAN / MANILA BULLETIN)

Palawan Rep. Franz Alvarez, chairman of the House Committee on Legislative Franchises, issued this statement as he brushed aside the threat of charges aired by the Office of the Solicitor General in connection with the Lower House’s request for provisional permit to allow the continued operation of the ABS-CBN network.

The Lower House panel has asked the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to grant the provisional permit to the ABS CBN whose legislative franchise expired Monday.

Solicitor General Jose Calida protested the Lower House even as he vowed to file charges against NTC officials for violating the law.

“The power of Congress to legislate is complete, full, and plenary. A legislative franchise is a law and by deciding whether to grant or deny a franchise, it is passing a law and making policy,” explained Alvarez.

He pointed out that Congress is clothed with the “exclusive authority to grant, deny, extend, revoke or modify broadcast franchises.”

According to Alvarez, the legislative franchise panel started deliberating on the embattled network’s application for renewal of its franchise before Congress adjourned in March, and has directed all interested parties to submit their position papers for or against ABS-CBN’s application.

The Palawan solon pointed out that the Lower House request for the issuance to ABS-CBN of a provisional authority to operate “is consistent with precedents.”

“This will give Congress sufficient time to assess the qualifications of the applicant and make a complete review of the positions of the different stakeholders,” the lawmaker said.

He stated: “It should be allowed the courtesy to complete the exercise of its power.”

“With the legal opinion of the Department of Justice and the authority given by the House of Representatives, there is no reason for ABS-CBN to discontinue or stop their operations,” said Alvarez.