Coco Martin and your favorite TV shows may be back on the air before your know it.
The House of Representatives approved on May 13 a bill that grants ABS-CBN Corporation a provisional franchise to operate until October 31, 2020.
House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano filed the bill. He said that Congress must focus on the COVID-19 pandemic, and it needs enough time to discuss the network’s application for a new 25-year franchise.
House Bill No. 6732 grants the broadcast company an interim license to operate while the Congress tackles the pending bills to grant ABS-CBN a franchise to go on air for another 25 years.
“Through this measure, we hope to strike a balance between the immediate needs of the people amid this crisis and the duty of Congress to ensure accountability to our present laws. We cannot, in good conscience, sweep the accusations under the rug,” the bill’s explanatory note stated.
Representatives Neptali Gonzalez, Raneo Abu, Roberto Puno, Dan Fernandez, LRay Villafuerte Jr., Ferdinand Romualdez, and Jose Antonio Sy-Alvarado co-sponsored the bill.
The provisional short-term franchise “will give both the House of Representative and the Senate [time] to hear the issues being raised for and against the renewal, and assess, with complete impartiality and fairness, whether or not the network shall be granted a franchise for another 25 years.”
On May 4, ABS-CBN’s franchise expired. Solicitor General Jose Calida warned the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) that its executives might be slapped with charges of graft if they grant ABS-CBN provisional authority to operate.
A day later, NTC issued a cease and desist order against the broadcast giant, which detailed all its channels and radio frequencies that must stop operating. On May 5, 7:52 p.m., ABS-CBN signed off.
In Cayetano’s sponsorship speech before the House Committee of the Whole, he addressed Calida’s warning and NTC’s decision. “To be clear, we take no offense to your legal opinion. Pinapahalagahan naming ang opinion niyo, even if it is contrary to the Department of Justice, and both houses of Congress, and to legal precedents,” he said.
“What we do object to and take serious offense with is the furtive manner by which you maliciously undermined the authority of Congress,” he added.
According to Cayetano, hearings on the ABS-CBN franchise bills do not automatically grant ABS-CBN the license to go on air.