With the upper and lower chamber still showing clear bias for and against the renewal of ABS-CBN’s legislative franchise, opposition Senator Leader Franklin Drilon filed on Wednesday (February 26) a resolution pushing for the grant of a provisional authority to operate to the network giant.
The provisional authority that Drilon is seeking will be effective from May 4, or the expiry date of ABS-CBN’s 25-year legislative franchise, up to the end of the 18th Congress, in case the network’s application for renewal was not approved.
“It is therefore respectfully submitted that the Congress, by concurrent resolution, may authorize the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to issue a provisional authority, subject to terms and conditions, to ABS-CBN and other entities similarly situated, authorizing them to continue operating subject to Congress’ eventual disposition of the renewal applications,” Drilon’s Concurrent Resolution 6 said.
The Senate Minority leader’s action was prompted by the declaration of Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra during the upper house’s hearing on the ABS-CBN franchise last February 24 that the NTC can issue a provisional authority to operate to the network if ordered by Congress.
Drilon highlighted the urgency of the resolution, as there are now only eight session days before Congress takes a break on March 13. It will resume sessions on May, the last day of ABS-CBN’s franchise life.
“Both the Senate and the House of Representatives need additional time to review and determine whether or not ABS-CBN Corporation shall be granted the renewal of its franchise,” he said.
While the Senate is clearly on the side of ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal, the House of Representatives—where the franchise bill should emanate under the Constitution—continues to show reluctance to act on the matter.
While 11 bills have been filed at the lower house seeking the renewal of the network’s franchise, the relevant committee has not calendared the matter for a hearing.