BAGUIO CITY – The city legislative body approved a resolution urging Congress of the Philippines to fastrack the passage of House Bill (HB) 6694 which seeks to grant ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation a new franchise valid for 25 years and appealing to the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to reconsider its cease and desist order (CDO) that caused the signing off of the giant television network and its affiliates nationwide.
The resolution authored by Vice Mayor Faustino A. Olowan states it is imperative for Congress of the Philippines, particularly the House of Representatives, to immediately act on the pending bills that seek to grant a new legislative franchise to ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation valid for 25 years so as not to suppress press freedom and allow the people easy access to information for the country to win the fight against the rapid spread of the dreaded Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) 2019.
The resolution points out that the operation of every media outfit, including ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation, in whatever platform, is very important during the prevailing trying times because it provides the people with the needed avenues from which to gather key information to help them be safe from the global pandemic.
The resolution underscores that Article VI of the 1987 Constitution bestowed to Congress of the Philippines the exclusive right and jurisdiction to grant legislative franchises, including broadcast networks operating in the country, where the same will be valid for a period of 25 years subject to renewal.
On March 30, 1995, Congress granted to ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation its legislative franchise to operate a broadcasting network and the said company officially started its operation on May 4, 1995.
However, ABS-CBN’s broadcast operations lapsed on May 4, 2020 following the expiration of its 25-year legislative franchise amidst repeated calls from concerned sectors for Congress and concerned government agencies, particularly the NTC, to allow the continuous and uninterrupted operations of the media network in the spirit of press freedom while the bill seeking the grant of its new legislative franchise is pending deliberations in the House of Representatives committee on legislative franchises.
The resolution stipulates that lawmakers are now deliberating on HB 6694 that seeks to grant ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation a new legislative franchise valid for a period of 25 years.
However, on May 5, 2020, the NTC issued to ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation a CDO for it to stop its operations due to the expiration of its 25-year legislative franchise that caused the eventually sign off to date.
The resolution asserts that during the period of the extended Luzonwide enhanced community quarantine, the media sector, including ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation, played a key role in effectively and efficiently distributing information to the populace on guidelines and policies of the national and local governments to ensure the compliance of the people to the precautionary measures taken to combat the effects of COVID-19 to the country’s economy and the livelihood of the Filipinos.
By Dexter A. See