It’s Congress’ call to enact law on proposed ABS-CBN franchise, says Roque

Published January 5, 2021, 3:22 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

It is up to Congress to pursue a bill seeking to renew the legislative franchise of ABS-CBN television network, Malacañang said Tuesday in keeping its distance from the issue.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque (OPS / MANILA BULLETIN)

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque made the statement to dispel claims that the passage of the network’s franchise bill would depend on the support of Malacanang.

“I beg to defer, that is a sole constitutional prerogative of Congress which must originate from the House of Representatives,” Roque said during televised press briefing.

Senate President Tito Sotto has filed bill on the renewal franchise granted to ABS-CBN Corporation to operate its television and radio stations for 25 years. Under Senate bill No. 1967, Sotto recognized the noted that the network remains the top choice of Filipino viewers due to its relevant news and inspiring television programs.

“ABS-CBN’s wide reach to Filipinos, alongside with the undeniable advantages of broadcast media relative to mass communication, definitely calls for the immediate renewal of the network’s franchise,” the bill read.

The Lopez-owned network was forced to shut down its free television and radio stations after a House panel junked its franchise application last year.

Duterte previously unleashed angry outburst against ABS-CBN network over an unaired political advertisement despite his payment. He vowed to block the franchise of the network and even advised the owners to sell their company instead.

Duterte later decided to stay neutral on the franchise issue after the network president Carlo Katigbak apologized over the advertising dispute.

Days after the network lost its franchise bid, Duterte said he was “ very happy” that he has “dismantled the oligarchy” in the country without having to declare martial law. He has resented the oligarchs that supposedly control the country’s political and economic fortunes without paying the right taxes.