Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said Thursday he and other members of the House of Representatives will file a resolution calling for the immediate extension of ABS-CBN’s franchise.
The franchise will expire early this year, and Congress’s failure to renew it will result in the cessation of the broadcast network’s operations.
Lagman said President Rodrigo Duterte’s repeated threat to block the renewal of ABS-CBN Corp.’s franchise, which expires in March 2020, “is ominously reminiscent of the unceremonious closure nationwide of 392 media outlets in 1972.”
The House has assured ABS-CBN it will be fair and objective in reviewing its application for the renewal of its franchise.
But Palawan Rep. Franz Alvarez, chairman of the House Committee on Legislative Franchises, reminded the media network that the franchise allowing it to continue its operations is a privilege and not a right.
Alvarez made it clear that his panel will thoroughly study and hear all sides regarding ABS-CBN’s application for its franchise renewal.
Lagman said he will lead the filing of a House Resolution on Jan. 6, 2020, or two weeks before Congress resumes session on Jan. 20.
Lagman said the resolution will urge the House Committee on Legislative Franchises to report out without further delay for plenary action a consolidation of nine pending bills proposing the renewal of the media giant’s franchise.
“The President must institute with the proper judicial or administrative forum his personal grievances against ABS-CBN, instead of imposing an extrajudicial killing of the freedom of the press,” Lagman said.
“Any deliberate and arbitrary denial of the extension of ABS-CBN’s franchise will render jobless 10,955 regular and non-regular employees as well as talent and project-based workers, and freeze P84.6 billion in assets and investments,” Lagman said.
Lagman also said his resolution will appeal to the leaders and members of the House of Representatives, particularly the Committee on Legislative Franchises, to act independently in exercising exclusive congressional jurisdiction on the grant of franchises, and must not be cowed by the President’s rantings.