Congress will not be a rubber stamp in ABS-CBN franchise row: solon

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 25 2020 09:11 AM | Updated as of Feb 25 2020 09:27 AM

Employees and supporters of ABS-CBN Corp. gather in front of the network's headquarters in Quezon City on February 21, 2020 to show support and call on congress to renew the broadcaster's franchise. Jire Carreon, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Congress "will not be a rubber stamp" of the Duterte administration as it decides on the fate of ABS-CBN's license to operate, a lawmaker said Tuesday.

At least 91 lawmakers have signed a petition urging the House of Representatives to "immediately" hear measures on the renewal of ABS-CBN's franchise, according to PBA Partylist Rep. Jericho Nograles, one of the authors of bills seeking to renew the network's franchise.

It was "highly unlikely," however, that the chamber will tackle the issue before it adjourns mid-March, he added.

"We’re excited and anxious to hear the merits of the renewal of the franchise of ABS-CBN. We generally wish it was sooner than later but again, the scheduling is really up to the leadership," he told ANC's Early Edition.

"Congress will not be a rubber stamp and members of Congress will be given the independence to weigh the pluses and minuses on the renewal of the ABS-CBN franchises."

The House Committee on Legislative Franchises said Monday it would start accepting position papers in support and opposition of the broadcast company's franchise renewal.

The development comes after the Senate conducted a hearing on ABS-CBN's compliance with provisions of its franchise.

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Nograles, however, denied that the House finally made an action because of the Senate hearing.

"The House of Representatives is a separate constitutional body from the Senate. We try not to be influenced by external factors. At this point in time the Committee on Legislative Franchises is happy to move forward. What prompted it, I suppose it’s just time," he said.

The House has yet to hear 11 measures seeking to grant ABS-CBN a fresh 25-year license to operate, which is set to lapse on May 4, according to the Department of Justice.

Nograles, however, said the DOJ's interpretation of the law granting ABS-CBN's franchise, signed March 30, 1995, was "independent of the interpretation of the House."