MANILA -- A concurrent resolution from the Senate and the House of Representatives authorizing the National Telecommunications Commission to extend ABS-CBN Corp's franchise is enough to allow the network to operate until lawmakers decide on a new one, a senator said.
ABS-CBN Corp's current franchise will expire in May. The House of Representatives, where franchise bills must originate, has not acted on several bills seeking a fresh 25-year license for the network.
Senator Grace Poe, who led a hearing on ABS-CBN's compliance with its franchise, addressed a statement from former Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno that the network could not operate past the expiry of its current franchise.
An extension of the franchise by the NTC, by authority of the concurrent resolution, is a "cure" should lawmakers lack time to tackle a franchise bill, Poe said.
"A lot of things have changed since Puno's term as Supreme Court chief," Poe said. Before they secured fresh licenses, the expiring franchises of GMA Network, an ABS-CBN rival, and telecommunications firms Globe Telecom and Smart Communications were extended by the NTC, she said.
"I was saying if they don't do this now in the case of ABS-CBN its more of an exception to the rule," Poe told ANC's Headstart.
A concurrent resolution expresses the sentiment of lawmakers and is different from a joint resolution which has the force of law.
In an interview with CNN Philippines, Puno cited the high court's decision in 2003 on the need for an existing franchise before a corporation can operate. He also cited Republic Act No. 7925 or the Public Telecommunications Policy Act of the Philippines.
"This act of Congress requesting the NTC to extend the franchise is also by authority of Congress that's why the proposal of having either joint resolution or concurred resolution could cure it," Poe said.
Poe said a concurrent resolution which seeks to get the sense of the Senate and the House of Representatives, will be filed by Sen. Franklin Drilon.
"What does NTC need? It just needs congressional authority that Congress is saying as of now the 18th Congress has not ended so we take it that this franchise should be valid until at least at the end of Congress when we're done deliberating with it. And I think its fair," she said.
Poe added that in a democracy, "laws should not hinder progress."