Solons may refile ABS-CBN franchise renewal bills in case of rejection

Published July 10, 2020, 9:33 AM

by Ellson Quismorio

House members can immediately refile bills seeking the renewal of ABS-CBN’s operating franchise in the event that the Legislative Franchises Committee votes against the current application after the series of marathon hearings.


“As far as I know, there’s no prohibition on the filing or re-filing of bills that are not favorably acted upon by a committee,” a congressman told the Manila Bulletin on Friday.

He said that unlike impeachment complaints against the President, which are limited to just one per year, there are no prescribed limits for the filing of franchise application bills. He said these are treated like any other proposed measures in the House of Representatives.

“Just like any other bill that doesn’t become a law for whatever reason, like it was vetoed, it was approved by one chamber but wasn’t by the other chamber, it didn’t reach third reading, or it wasn’t acted upon by a committee, it could be filed again in the next Congress,” the congressman explained.

But members of the House don’t necessarily have to wait for the next Congress to refile.

“What the members can file is a similar bill [to the one that did not prosper], but it should not be the exact same bill. Obviously, if the subject of a bill is the same as one that a committee has already decided on, the committee will not deliberate on it again anymore,” he said.

He underscored that the practicality of refiling similar bills at once is an entirely different matter. “The committee that tackled your bill will basically have the same composition as before. You’re talking to the same people. So there’s no certainty of a different result.”

The pending franchise renewal of television and radio giant ABS-CBN has led to an unprecedented 13 joint hearings by the Legislative Franchises Committee and the Good Government and Public Accountability Committee from start to finish.

Receiving much focus and attention both at the plenary hall and in social media during the proceedings were the alleged violations of the network against the 1987 Constitution and its previous 25-year franchise.

The company, which went off the air last May 5, employs an estimated 11,000 people. It will begin laying off workers by August this year if their non-operation persists.

“ABS-CBN will be the most high-profile rejection by the Legislative Franchises panel, if it does get rejected. Rarely talaga nag-rereject ang committee kasi usually kung ayaw i-approve, hindi lang ite-take up (Rarely does the committee ever reject an application. If there’s a bill that it doesn’t want to approve, then it’s usually not taken up),” the congressman said.