ABS-CBN can appeal franchise denial: solon

Gillan Ropero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 12 2020 10:54 AM | Updated as of Jul 12 2020 10:58 AM

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MANILA - ABS-CBN can file an appeal after its new franchise bid was denied by lawmakers at the committee level in the House of Representatives, Cong. Rufus Rodriguez said Sunday.

Voting 70-11 last Friday, the House committee on legislative franchises denied the country's largest broadcasting firm a fresh license to operate, a move seen by some sectors as curtailment of press freedom and endangering the livelihood of some 11,000 workers.

According to Rodriguez, who authored one of the ABS-CBN franchise bills, the network can refute the drafting group's findings on issues surrounding its previous franchise.

"As a private bill, as an applicant to Congress, as a private corporation, then, it has all the right to be able to ask for a motion for reconsideration," Rodriguez told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.

"And, according to (committee) chairman (Palawan 1st District Rep. Franz) Alvarez, they can take it up. And then, there can be a hearing for the motion for reconsideration," he added.

The Cagayan de Oro City Representative pointed out that the technical working group's resolution to deny ABS-CBN a new franchise, which was subsequently approved by majority of voting lawmakers, was not even unanimous, citing the dissent of Marikina City 2nd Dist. Rep. Stella Quimbo.

"[O]ne member dissented… it’s not even a unanimous decision, so paving the way really for a motion for reconsideration."

"That is something for ABS-CBN to do... They have to decide on that, on whether they will take it up and they will be able to present their motion for reconsideration on the technical working group and the voting denying their franchise," he added.

Rodriguez said another remedy would have been a motion for reconsideration by one of the 70 who voted against the grant of a franchise, within 24 hours after the decision. This period lapsed Saturday afternoon.

The former college of law dean described the committee's decision has having "no basis in fact and in law" as relevant government agencies questioned in the hearings all cleared ABS-CBN of any violations.

The findings of the Department of Justice, Bureau of Immigration, Bureau of Internal Revenue, Department of Labor, Securities and Exchange Commission, Presidential Commission on Good Government, and the Philippine Economic Zone Authority, among others, favoring ABS-CBN on issues hurled against it have "persuasive" effect and should not have been set aside by the "reasonable men" in Congress, he said.

Meanwhile, another option is to have legislation by people’s initiative which has been done before but takes so much time, Rodriguez said.

“That’s a possibility. It will just be cumbersome because the COMELEC (Commission on Elections) would have to look at the signatures and all of that,” he said. 

“In terms of the possibility in Congress right now, unless you have a motion for reconsideration, there is no more, any other way to have it back to the committee and then go to the plenary.”

ABS-CBN's previous franchise expired on May 4. A day after, it was ordered by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to stop broadcasting on free TV and radio.

Two weeks ago, two alias cease and desist orders were served against the network's digital broadcast in Metro Manila, and its sister company Sky Cable's direct broadcast satellite service.

President Rodrigo Duterte had in the past threatened to shutter the network over an unaired political campaign ad in 2016 and complaints of alleged biased reporting.

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